|Florida Nature: Bats (4)|
Bats are mammals. They account for more than 25 percent of all the
mammals on the earth! Bats are the only mammals that can fly. There are
good reasons to appreciate bats in Florida. One of the wonderful things
that most bats do is eat insects! By eating their body weight in
insects each night, bats are the most important controller of
night-flying insects, including many crop pests. Some bats eat fruit,
nectar and seeds from plants. When the bats spit out the seeds or leave
them in their droppings, they help new plants to grow. They also
pollinate many kinds of plants, including vanilla beans, peaches,
bananas and avocados.
Silver-haired Bat- The silvered-haired bat is a medium-size bat. It's dark brown-black hairs are tipped with silver giving it an icy appearance. The silver-tipped hairs do not extend to the face or neck. Their ears are short, rounded and without fur. The silver-haired bats are migratory, and sometimes migrate in groups. There are several records of groups of weary bats descending upon ships at sea. Some bats netted during summer months and banded were recaptured over 100 miles away! A typical day roost for the silver-haired bat is the space behind a piece of loose bark on a tree. Individuals have also been found in woodpecker holes and on bird's nests. During migration they may be encountered in a wide variety of other shelters. Although they may appear in any kind of building, they favor open sheds, garages, and outbuildings rather than enclosed attics. They frequently rest in a pile of slabs, lumber, railroad ties, or fence posts, especially when migrating through the prairies where shelters are scarce.
Southeastern Myotis- The southeastern myotis is usually found in the northern half of the state of Florida and tends to live near streams, ponds and reservoirs. The southeastern myotis is predominantly a cave bat in that part of its range where suitable caves occur. Outside of caves, it has been found in crevices between bridge timbers; culverts and drain pipes, boat houses, barns, and the attics of houses; and in hollow trees. The bats are usually closely associated with water and when they leave their diurnal roosts around dark, they fly to nearby ponds and streams over which they forage and from which they drink, usually flying within 2 feet of the surface of water to catch insects. Most often, maternity colonies are located above water within caves. Even though this species is listed as a species of special concern, Florida has the highest concentration of these bats and their maternity caves in the world.
Velvety Free-tailed Bat-The velvety free-tailed bat was first discovered in the Florida Keys in 1994. It is believed this species arrived in Florida from Cuba as a result of natural causes. Since then it has expanded its range throughout most of the Florida Keys from Key West to Key Largo. The velvety free-tailed bat is a medium sized bat, weighing just 0.5 ounces (15 grams), with a forearm measuring 2 1/3 to 2 5/8 inches (59 to 61 millimeters), and high aspect ratio wings that are very long and narrow, facilitating fast and efficient flight. Their long and narrow wings require them to gain speed before flight to attain lift; they must drop vertically from their perch before they extend their wings. The short velvety fur varies in color from dark brown to dark gray. Like other bats in the family Molossidae the tail extends well beyond a short tail membrane. So far, in Florida, the velvety free-tailed bat has only been found roosting in buildings. In Cuba they are known to roost in rock crevices, tree hollows, buildings and the cracks in utility poles. Velvety free-tailed bats feed on planthoppers, leafhoppers, grasshoppers, moths, beetles, mayflies and other small flying insects. Females give birth to a single pup, but may have more than one reproductive cycle in a year. Pups are born during the summer from June through September.
Wagner's Bonneted Bat- The Wagner's mastiff bat is Florida's largest bat and is found in southern Florida. Its fur ranges in color from dark gray to brownish-gray. As with other bats in the family Molossidae its tail extends well beyond a short tail membrane. It has large broad ears that slant forward over the eyes from which it gets the common name of "bonneted bat."These bats have a loud, piercing call that is easily picked up by human ears. The roosting preferences for these bats are barrel-tile roofs, tree hollows, and holes and shafts of royal palm trees. They emerge to forage much later than most bats, leaving well after dark. Wagner's bonneted bats seldom forage lower than 30 feet. These bats can take flight from horizontal surfaces, a feat most of our bats can't do easily. . Females give birth to a single pup, but may have more than one reproductive cycle per year. Pups are born during the summer from June through September.
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