For the longest time, I was a little freaked out by bats. There was really no reason for me to be so scared of these little flying animals and nowadays, I think they’re incredibly cute! Washington is home to more than 15 different species of bats and they’re a great benefit to people. Here are some fun facts about bats:
Bats use ecolocation to find insects to eat while flying.
Bats often live on insects like moths, beetles, and mosquitos and because many will hunt at night, ecolocation helps bats to find the insects in the air. But contrary to popular belief, bats are not blind and some even have really great eyesight!
Bats also vary in size.
One species, the hoary bat, is roughly the size as a house sparrow with the wingspan of 17 inches! The canyon bat, on the other hand, is only about 2.5 inches in length. These two do live in Washington state but bats all around the world can range in size from 1 inch to an entire foot from head to toe!
Many species are keystone species!
Bats of all kinds provide so many benefits to their ecosystems, so much so that some are considered keystone species! Many other plants and animals rely on bats for so many things. Fruit eating bats, for example, help spread seeds in the American Southwest and in tropical rainforests; and insect eating bats, like many here in the northwest, are a natural pest control!
Are you interested in learning more about bats? Here are some great resources:
- Living with Wildlife: Bats from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Bats Northwest, a nonprofit organization formed in 1996 to help protect bats living in the Pacific Northwest
- The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound is a great resource to learn about so many things in the Puget Sound, including bats!
- Washington State Bat Conservation Plan (June 2013)