Bats are nocturnal flying mammals. In Nevada we have 23 bat species, some of whom live alone in places like trees and bat boxes while others live in colonies in caves. These wondrous creatures are a vital part of many ecosystems and contrary to popular belief only less than 0.5% of bats contract rabies (Nevada Department of Wildlife). Most bats only bite out of self-defense, unless they are one of the three species of vampire bats out of 1,000 of other bat species. Bats often try to avoid people and other animals to protect themselves and in turn don’t easily contract diseases like rabies. Still, never handle a bat; they are delicate, vulnerable creatures that will be afraid of you and might try to bite, and regardless, they probably just don’t want to be held.
Most bats are insectivorous, eating mosquitos, moths, locusts, beetles, and grasshoppers. Without them we would have to add more pesticides to crops to fight off insects, and people would be more susceptible to diseases that are carried by mosquitoes. Possibly worst of all, imagine summer camping trips with 20% more mosquitos. Bats also pollinate crops, flowers, and other plant species; your favorite fruit was most likely pollinated by a bat. Out of the 23 bat species in Nevada only one is currently listed as threatened through the Endangered Species Act; the Spotted Bat (Euderma maculatum). Unfortunately, 50% of the United States bat species have declined or become endangered (Nevada Department of Wildlife) and Nevada is no exception. To protect bats in the United States, organizations like Bat Conservation International have been protecting and restoring bat habitats, finding solutions to White Nose Syndrome, a deadly fungus for bats brought into caves by miners and explorers, monitoring populations of bats, and educating the public. You can get involved by building a bat box in your backyard (basically free insect control!), participating in bat-monitoring surveys, or learning more about bats and threats to bat species and sharing this information with friends and family.
NV Bat Brochure
Bat Conservation International Bat Box Information
This blog is managed by the staff and volunteers of Galena Creek Visitor Center. We write about parts of the natural world that we find fascinating and want to teach others about, as well as keeping you updated on the Visitor Center and park. If you want to learn more, please sign up for our monthly newsletter, where we share upcoming events, updates on the ecology of the park, and highlights from each month.