There are reported to be more than 40 different species of bat found across North America, even in remote and harsh places such as Alaska. They inhabit virtually every different type of habitat you can think of and can come together in intimidatingly-large numbers. But they're not the villain that every horror story makes them out to be. In fact, bats are quite good for humans; they eat insects in their droves, that would otherwise cause huge problems for humans, crops, and other animals alike.
The largest bat species found in the United States is one called the greater or western mastiff bat. As well as having a large body (up to 23 inches in length), it also has large, almost oversized and contorted ears.
The smallest bat species found in the United States is one called the western pipistrelle bat, also known as the canyon bat. Barely growing to more than 3 inches in length, you'll likely only see this tiny bat if you live in Mexico or western areas of the United States.
One of the most common bat species found across the USA is the little brown bat, but this thumb-sized bat has recently been completely decimated by a fungal infection known as white-nose syndrome, which has reportedly taken more than 1 million little brown bats since it was first detected.
One of the longest-living mammals on the planet is a bat: a California leaf-nose bat, known for living longer than 20 years with the right conditions. Sadly, this rarely happens in this day and age. This species of bat alone is suffering as a result of deforestation.
The oldest bat in the world apparently made it to its 41st birthday before passing away, and there are around 6 species that scientists believe live for longer than 30 years, if they are given almost perfect conditions. Some experts believe that bats do not fall victim to age-related conditions in the same way that other animals do, and it appears that bats don't have the same huge struggles with cancer that other species do.
There is a bat species for virtually every kind of climate you could think of. As well as living in caves, which we most know them for, they also inhabit desert regions as well as dense forests and woods. Many bat species are now more accustomed to living right alongside humans, in human-built structures, as a result of deforestation and habitat destruction. One classic example of this is in Austin, Texas: more than 1,500,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats come together to roost beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge.
In residential or commercial areas, bats are likely to inhabit tree hollows, chimneys, attics, roofs, in masonry cracks, and similar spots.
Almost all bats in the US eat insects. In fact, they act as a natural insect population regulator — and we should be very thankful for it. Some bats will eat other things, including fruits, or the nectar from flowers, but there are no vampire or blood-sucking bats. You won't find those until you head into Mexico.
As well as moths and beetles, bats eat a very large quantity of mosquitos, which does humans a favor by keeping disease-spreader populations to a minimum, including malaria-spreading mosquitos.
Bat guano is one of the most problematic factors with a bat infestation. This, like pigeon and other bird droppings, is actually corrosive, which means that it will literally burn through any material with enough time, or if the mound of it grows. The longer the bats are present in your building, the bigger the mound of guano will be, and the more damage it is likely to do.
Bats can also spread disease, as well as creating costly-to-repair damage. It is thought that bats could be responsible for the start of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid19), and they have also been linked to ebola, SARS, rabies, and a string of others. We do not recommend attempting to deal with a bat infestation without taking strict safety precautions, including wearing the appropriate protective equipment.
In order to prevent bats from making your home their own, you'll know to ensure that they don't manage to find a way to get inside. Poorly-maintained roofs and attics are hotspots for animal infestations, particularly those that can fly, and the spaces offer the mammals exactly what they need in order to thrive.
Removing food sources is difficult with bats, because most of them will feast on insects that you can't control the populations of. By protecting your home properly, and sealing up cracks or holes with hardy, long-lasting repairs, you can ensure that bats have no way of getting inside your property whether they're hanging around in the area or not.
The best way, and often the most legal way, to remove bats is to use a process called exclusion. One-way devices, funnels, or traps are used to allow the bats to leave a property via the exit/entrance points they usually would. Once they have exited, however, they are unable to get back inside, because the one-way device doesn't allow it. The animal is forced to find another place to roost.
Exclusion approaches only work when any bat youngsters are old enough to leave the roost; otherwise, all you'll do is trap the mothers outside of their maternity roost and the youngsters inside. They will eventually die without a parent to take care of them. In most states, this is illegal. We urge you to do your research as far as your local state or jurisdiction and the removal of bats. You may find that they are protected and you are unable to do anything about them without the assistance of a professional.
1 - Some scientists believe that bats, being the only mammals that can fly, developed a sort-of "super" immune system, offering up one explanation as to why they are also linked to some of the most deadly and contagious zoonotic viral diseases known to man.
2 - Scientists also believe that bats have some sort of built-in anti-aging feature. They just don't seem to suffer stress in the same ways as other mammals or animals, they live a lot longer than most animals, and they don't suffer with a number of diseases that affect other mammals.
3 - Some bat species can devour more than a thousand mosquitos in a single hour.
To learn more about bats, see: