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Thank a Bat if You Like Delicious Smoothies on a Hot Day!

Written by Lainet Garcia-Rivera
    Friday, 26 September 2014
Thank a Bat if You Like Delicious Smoothies on a Hot Day!

When the word "bat" comes out in a conversation the first thing that many people think is about mosquitoes. We wonder how to get more bats in our backyards to have fewer mosquitoes. This is one of the roles bats play in nature, pest controllers. Bats find all kinds of insects to be tasty, like moths, grasshoppers, flies, and beetles to name a few. This not only makes our lives more comfortable, but in agriculture it can save lots of money that would be spent on pesticides.

All Wisconsin bat species feed on bugs, but this is not the only service they provide to us. If you like to enjoy a delicious smoothie in the morning, then you should be grateful that bats exits. They are responsible for pollinating 500 types of tropical plants, including banana, agave, sausage tree and durian, just to name a few. Many of these plants have flowers that are like big, bright funnels. And, some of them bloom when the night arrives and bats become active.

Did you know that bats are also responsible for creating forests? Like us, bats love to eat fruits. As they go from their foraging areas to their roost they spread fruit seeds. When the seeds reach the ground they start growing into the next generation of forest vegetation. In fact, most of the plants that bats like to eat need to get away from their parent tree to grow stronger and some of them need have to pass through the digestive system of bats in order to germinate. Isn't that crazy?

Another cool thing about bats, it is that they are diverse eaters, so we can find bats that feed on frogs, birds, mammals, scorpions, and blood. Yes, I mentioned blood! They are only three species in the world which feed on blood, two of them drink blood from birds and just one likes mammals' blood (mostly cattle and horses, not people). These species of bats do not suck blood. Rather, they use their razor-sharp teeth to open a tiny cut and their saliva acts as an anti-coagulant, allowing the blood to trickle out. The bat uses its tongue to lap up its meal. The animal that was bitten doesn't notice a thing. The "vampire" bat (Desmodus rotundus) is the most selfless bat in the world and will feed each other when food becomes scarce.

To recognize the importance of bats to the ecosystem, we are collaborating with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to host the 2014 Wisconsin Bat Festival at our Riverside Park branch on October, 4th from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. We invite you to join us and learn more neat facts about bats. You'll learn what you can do to help bats and get to meet real bats from all over the world. We look forward to seeing you!

Lainet Garcia-Rivera

Lainet Garcia-Rivera

 

Lainet, Community Program Coordinator at the Menomonee Valley branch, has her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and a Master’s Degree in Zoology and Ecology from the University of Havana, Cuba.  She worked at the Ecology and Systematic Institute in Cuba for several years doing research in Bat Ecology and teaching courses and workshops related to Conservation Biology.  Lainet enjoys doing any kind of outdoor activity!

 

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