During the month of October, various families from all cultural backgrounds celebrate Halloween. One of the major characters used to decorate homes are bats – the only flying mammals. Over the years, bats have turned into a symbol of all-things spooky related to this once-a-year celebration where children and adults of all ages participate for one sole reason: for a trick or a treat.
Unfortunately, while we may be celebrating Halloween by producing images of bats to decorate our homes, making them an immortal character, in real life the population of bats is decreasing. Where once there used to be live bats roaming the caves of our country, now there are bats fighting to survive the White Nose Syndrome.
The National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) describes the White Nose Syndrome as a deadly disease that appears to have no end. Since the winter of 2007, millions of insect-eating bats in various parts of the United States have died. In fact, the bat population was estimated to have decreased by 80 percent. This is because the mortality rate for bats that contract the White Nose Syndrome is 90-100 percent.
The name – White Nose Syndrome – comes from the white fungus that surrounds the skin of the bats, particularly around the muzzle, ears, and wings. Sadly, the bats that are mostly affected by the White Nose Syndrome are hibernating bats. Now that winter is around the corner and are preparing to hibernate, they will be exposed to this disease. Why? Because the White Nose Syndrome fungus can thrive in any cave without the presence of bats – meaning that bats who have had no previous exposure to the fungus will now be exposed to the fungus.
The decrease of the bat population is worrying to wildlife professionals. Unlike dogs and rabbits that can have 3 or more offspring, a bat only has 1 offspring per year. So why should we care about the survival of bats? – Because they can eat up to 5,000 nighttime insects per night. Bats help our world survive. Did you know that bats are the only pollinators of agave? That’s right. Without agave, there is no tequila.
So what can we do to show that we care about our bats?
Celebrate National Bat Week from now until November 1 by:
- Sharing pictures of art or writing inspired by bats
- Carving a bat on a pumpkin
- Wearing a bat shirt
- Hanging your social media profile picture upside down (like bats)
Most importantly…share your support on social media by using #BatWeek or #SavetheBats.
For more information visit the official Save the Bats webpage: http://www.savebats.org/bat-week/