Friday, December 30, 2011

White nose syndrome caused by fungus

This posting comes a little late, but in October a study found that the disease responsible for millions of bat deaths is caused by a fungus, and a fungus alone.

This was named one of the top ten wildlife news stories of 2011, also of note is that congress recently approved $4 million dollars towards white nose syndrome research.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bad press for bats
The above article is an example of some bad press about bats, it is about a man who died in the US from rabies transmitted by a vampire bat.  If you read the article, however, you will see that he was bite in Mexico and then traveled to the us where he died.  There are no vampire bats in the US. The article is also incorrect in saying that vampire bats "suck" blood, they do not. They lap it up like a dog drinking water.  Another example of bad press is the story from August in which a bat was found flying around in an airplane, or the story from Virginia in which animals being rescued after a hurricane were placed in a building that was also inhabited by bats.  Once people realized the bats where there, they euthanized all of the animals for fear of a rabies outbreak.
Rabies in bats is uncommon.. and many animals can have it and transmit it to humans..raccoons, skunks, foxes, domestic cats and dogs..and indeed 99% of rabies cases worldwide are caused by dogs. You are more likely to win the lottery or get struck by lightning than to get rabies from a bat. On the other hand, without bats we would be out BILLIONS of dollars by paying out for the services they provide for us.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bats in your house (and one myth dispelled)

The more people I talk to, the more I realize that bats in houses is a bit of a common occurrence! I just wanted to mention that there ARE ways to exclude bats that will not harm them.

There are a couple of great websites with information on the proper way to exclude bats.  The one I trust the most is  This is the website for Bat Conservation International.
It also has lots of great information about bats and why they are so incredibly important to our ecosystem (did I ever mention that one little brown bat can eat up to 1000 mosquito sized insects in an hour?).  A recent study also estimated that if we were to lose all bats from the United States it would cost us 3.7 billion dollars a year to take care of the insect issue they would leave behind.

I know that many people are worried about bats in and around their house, mostly because of the concern of rabies.  Truth be told, the chances of a bat having rabies is pretty slim.  From the Bats of Ohio Book by Virgil Brack et al. "Worldwide, rabies kills about 30,000 people each year, 99 percent of those cases are transmitted by dogs.  During the last 50 years, only about 40 people in the United States died from rabies after being bitten bat a bat".
Bats, like any other mammal, can, of course, contract can deer, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and domestic animals (among others).  The best precaution is that no wild animal should be touched with your bare hand and if you are bitten rabies shots it is (regardless of the animal that bit you).

Another myth..bats cannot and will not get tangled in your hair.  They want to avoid you as much you want to avoid them.  If you are outside at night and there is a bat around, its because they have come after the yummy insects you have attracted!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


A Big Brown bat
 Our first few nights of mist netting proved to be VERY successful! We captured lots of big brown bats, much like we did last year.   We also caught eastern red bats last year, but this year we have already caught twice as many, and most have been pregnant females.

An Eastern Red bat

What we have been really fortunate to net are species that we did not catch last year...including A northern long-eared and a Tri-colored (this bat had a recent change in common name, it used to be referred to as an Eastern Pipistrille).

Tri-colored bat..isn't that the cutest face ever!
Northern Long-eared..look at those long ears!
The northern long-eared bat can be difficult to capture because of their habit of staying in very forested areas.  They are very similar to little brown bats in physical characteristics, the only way to tell them apart is their long ears and very pointed tragus (the little part right inside their ear).  The United States Fish and Wildlife was recently petitioned to have the northern long-eared bat listed as endangered, so the fact that we have a breeding population of these bats is great! 

We have also been on the lookout for the effects off White-Nose Syndrome.  If bats were infected with the fungus, but survived the winter, they might show signs of wing damage, but our bats look great!!

We will continue to net throughout July and use the data to confirm the presence of the species that we have already detected with our acoustic monitors.  We are still on the look at for the largest bat in Ohio, the hoary bat (so called for the hoary, or frosted appearance of their fur), the evening bat and the silver-haired bat.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The summer begins with volunteer surveys

This summer we were fortunate enough to receive a grant from the National Science Foundation that allowed us to buy a few more Anabats (the acoustic devices that records the echolocation calls of the bats and then turns those calls into something we can use to determine the species that made the call). 

Above is the Anabat with a GPS unit attached.
The Anabat records the echolocation calls while at the same time
taking location data from the GPS.

We have partnered with The Metroparks of The Toledo area to conduct walking volunteer surveys using the Anabat equipment.  Twice a month in June and July volunteers at Wildwood, Oak Openings Preserve, and Secor Metroparks will walk predetermined transects and collect data using the Anabat.

Adam and Alex with Anabat
We began working with the Olander park system doing transects there as well, but our volunteers are from the class of Ms. Natalie Cook's at the Natural Science Technology Center.  High school students Alex, Adam (recent graduate), Jessie, and Ashley are our volunteers.

Ashley and Jessie with Anabat

We began our volunteer surveys this past week with great success!!  Volunteers walked between 45 minutes and an hour along trails within the parks.  I later downloaded the call files and analyzed each call to species.  We recorded all eight species that we know to be in the Oak Openings Region. 

Here are our results for the first week!
Wildwood Metropark volunteers recorded Big Brown, Little Brown, Red, Hoary, Evening and Tri-color bats. 
Oak Openings Preserve Metropark volunteers recorded Big Brown, Red, Silver-hair, Northern Long-ear, Evening and Tri-color bats.
Secor Metropark volunteers recorded Big Brown, Little Brown, Northern Long-ear, and Tri-color bats.
Olander Park volunteers recorded Big brown and Silver-hair bats.

Here are some examples of the visual representation of the calls that the Anabat supplies for us.

An Evening bat heard at
Oak Openings Preserve Metropark
An Hoary bat heard at Wildwood Metropark
A Big Brown bat heard at Secor Metropark

We will continue to analyze the data by using the GPS coordinates for each call to determine exactly where each species of bat was heard. Then we can make associations between habitat and presence of bats to determine possible preferred habitat within these parks.

Stay tuned . . . we begin netting on Tuesday night so hopefully we will have lots of great pictures!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sad news

Sad news for both Ohio and Kentucky.  White Nose Syndrome has been found in both states just recently.  For more information regarding the find in Ohio please see the following link


For more information about White Nose Syndrome

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

MWBWG meeting

For a few days at the end of February I was able to attend the joint meeting of the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network, the Northeastern Bat Working Group, The Midwest Bat Working Group, and the 21st annual Mammal Colloquium.  It was held in Louisville at the beautiful Seelbach Hotel from the 23-25. 

The first few days focused on the impacts of White Nose Syndrome and wind energy.  It was a depressing couple of days!!! The news is not good. 

White Nose has been found in many states and has also moved into Canada.  See this website for further information

White Nose Syndrome is a fungus that grows quite well in the cave environment where certain bat species hibernate over the winter.  The fungus was probably introduced from Europe.  It grows on the skin of bats and is thought to cause them to wake up repeatedly when they should be hibernating.  There is no food when they wake and they essentially starve to death. In many cases there is almost 100% mortality in the caves where it is found.  We are not talking about just a few bats...a few hundred thousand bats to only a few hundred...or less.  The species most affected are Little Brown, Northern Long Ear, Tri-color (or Eastern Pipistrille) and to a lesser extent, the Big Brown bat.

Wind energy is a whole other story...the turbines that are being put up at an increasing rate are having an affect on our migrating bat species, the Eastern Red bat, Silver-Hair bat and Ohio's largest species, the Hoary bat.  The exact cause of mortality in these bats is still unclear.  They may not be able to "see" the fast moving blades and are directly impacted by them, or they are brought in by the pressure change the rotating blades produce and undergo something called barotrauma...their lungs burst.  It's uncertain how these deaths are affecting the populations as a whole, but I tend to think it can't be good.
There was a silver lining, however, as researchers at Bat Conservation International are finding ways to deter the bats from coming near the turbines.  see this webiste for more info

If you would like to become a member of the Midwestern Bat Working Group visit

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A few pictures

Here are a few pictures of bats that we caught last summer.  I thought the pictures might give us some hope that spring will eventually arrive!! 
                                                    This is us putting up the nets to catch the bats, they are 24 feet high!

Below is a Big Brown Bat, this was the most common bat captured.

An Eastern Red Bat, my pesonal favorite!

We also caught Little Brown Bats, I am worried about this species in particular because of the devastating effects of White Nose Syndrome.  This is a fungus that attacks the bats in caves and mines where they are hibernating.  It grows on the skin and fur of the bats, causing them to wake up too much from hibernation and starve to death.  In some caves there is 99% mortality!!

We also use equipment to "hear" the bats.  We use something called an Anabat, it slows down their high frequency echolocation calls. With this information we can determine the species making the call.  We have heard 8 different species!