Big brown bat 1 of 14 species in state

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Last week on a cool cloudy afternoon I was alerted to the presence of this bat by a downtown Cape Girardeau business owner. The bat was hanging onto the bottom outdoor side of a seldom-used exit door. A few hours after taking this photo I returned to the site. The bat was gone.

This bat is called a big brown bat. It is one of 14 kinds of bats found in Missouri. All bats native to Missouri live on insects. None feed on blood of animals.

Bats are not blind. They have good eyesight that they use to fly during daylight hours, but they also can fly at night by using a kind of sonar called echolocation. By using this sonar capability they can catch night-flying insects and also avoid flying into stationary objects such as trees and buildings.

Rabies is a deadly disease commonly associated with bats, skunks and raccoons. Reports by health officials have estimated that less than 1 percent of bats carry the rabies virus at any given time. If you have to handle a bat, be wise and wear leather gloves that the bat can't bite through.

It is believed that bats eat more mosquitoes than do all other animals. In Missouri bats hibernate during winter in caves, in holes under large rocks or even in large hollow trees in the woods.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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