SciSun: Scary, even if you’re a bat

Bats are in the news.  Not just because of the time of year.  And not because someone needs a super hero and is shining a light in the sky.  It’s because bats are getting sick and no one knows why.   You might think that’s not a big deal – bats are creepy and strange and weird, so if a few of them get sick it’s no big loss.   But bats are very important; without bats there would be millions of more insects in the world, maybe so many insects that they would eat our food and spread disease and generally cause big problems.   There are many different types of bats; most eat insects but some only eat fruit or drink flower nectar, like hummingbirds.  And bats are mammals, like us.  They have hair, and are warm-blooded, and their babies are born live and drink milk.  In fact, some people who study bats say they are very good parents and very social with other bats.   So we have more in common with bats than you might think! Except for the eating insects part.

But back to the bats getting sick.   Throughout much of the United States and areas of Canada, bats are being found with White Nose Syndrome.  Simply, a white fungus is growing on the bats, particularly the nose, mouth and ears.   Fungus can be very bad for mammals, and eventually the bats that are sick die.   So far there have been more than one million bats that have died.

What’s most scary is that no one knows why this fungus is growing on the bats.   Some people think it might be from pollution, or a sudden change in the weather or living conditions that the bats can’t handle, or even something that’s missing in the environment that was there before but is now gone.  But everyone agrees that unless a solution is found soon to help the bats, then it’s possible the bats might one day be gone too.   And that’s scary news.  Both to bats, and to us.

Dig Deeper!

There are lots of great places to learn more about Bats and White Nose Syndrome. Here are a few to get you started:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/02/100216-bats-white-nose-fungus-tennessee/

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=night-stalker-white-nose

http://www.fort.usgs.gov/wns/

And always check out your local library!

 

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Posted October 31, 2010 by ECOVIA eco-adventure® in SciSun

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