IDNR encourages Illinoisans to
be kind to bats
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Bats a natural predator of insects
SPRINGFIELD -- While tickets sales may be soaring for
"Batman," the movie, the real-life bat in your backyard may be as
big a hero to Illinois homeowners as the superhero of Gotham City.
The bat is a nocturnal mammal that plays a key role in the
environment, sometimes eating thousands of insects in a single
"The bat is one of the most misunderstood creatures around," said
Joe Kath, manager of the Endangered Species Project for the Illinois
Department of Natural Resources. "Many misperceptions can be linked
to movies and old wives' tales."
Twelve species of bats live in
Illinois. Two are on the federal and state lists of endangered
species. Illinois bats feed exclusively on insects, and a single bat
may consume 3,000 insects in one night.
Bats are the only mammals that fly; their wings provide lift and
thrust, as well as gliding ability. They navigate with a
sophisticated "sonar" or echolocation system.
"Bats are a true ally, especially in controlling insects," said
Kath. "All bats are protected under the wildlife code."
Bats thrive in forested areas and caves. Areas such as ponds,
streams, lakes and rivers, which attract insects, are also
hospitable to bats. As mammals, bats give birth to live young that
nurse. Most female bats reproduce just one bat each year. Within
three weeks of birth, the young bat is capable of flying and feeding
on its own.
"Observing bats can be fascinating," said Jeff Vose, director of
education for the Department of Natural Resources. "They stand out
as a species because of their stupendous aerodynamic flight skills.
Because they eat about a third of their body weight in insects each
night, the bat is a friend to gardeners. Bats also are very clean,
as they spend considerable time grooming -- almost like cats."
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Plans for building bat houses are provided online by the
Department of Natural Resources at
An educational activity book for children, "Creatures of the
Night," is also available with information about bats and other
nocturnal animals. In addition, the book is available in Spanish, "Criaturas
de la Noche," via
Scientific study of bats has led to development of navigational
aids for the blind and contributed to the field of knowledge in
space biology and aging.
According to scientists, fossil evidence indicates bats have been
in existence for approximately 50 million years. The greatest
threats to the survival of the species can be linked to man,
including elimination of habitat and presence of pesticides. Bats
are also considered an ecological barometer, as the species responds
to fluctuations in environment.
Department of Natural Resources news release]