March 15, 2021

Written by Lydia Moore, Palmetto Bluff Conservancy Research + Education Coordinator

Bats are mysterious creatures of the night. Flying silently above our heads, they swoop and dive, snatching insects and eating them mid-air. Bats, misunderstood and unfairly feared, have an extraordinary ability to navigate through the dark. They silently scream echolocation calls into the night in a range above what we can hear. They are the only mammals that took to the skies, using a vertical, aerial landscape inaccessible to most nocturnal vertebrates. Their silent, nocturnal lifestyle makes us blind to their presence – they are all around us and we hardly notice them.

Lydia Moore measures and tags a female tri-colored bat at Palmetto Bluff
Lydia Moore measures and tags a tri-colored bat.

I have been studying bats for about a decade and I have been asked all sorts of questions over the years. Some of the most common queries I have encountered include:

  • Are bats mammals? Sure are. They have fur and feed their young milk just like us. In fact, they are the only truly flying mammal.
  • Don’t all bats have rabies? Resounding no. Less than 1% of bats have rabies.
  • We have more than one species? Yup! 13 have been documented in Beaufort County. In fact, bats are the second most diverse group of mammals on the planet, with roughly 1400 species worldwide.
  • Are bats blind? Nope! They can see at least as well as we can in the dark.
  • Bats have fur? Sure do. Their fur color varies by species. Yellow, red, mahogany, ebony black with silver streaks, rich brown…what a variety!
  • Are bats cool? Absolutely!
Lydia Moore measures and tags a female tri-colored bat at Palmetto Bluff
Lydia Moore measures and tags an evening bat at Palmetto Bluff.

These frequently asked questions have made me realize that most of us are not well versed in the lives of bats. Unfortunately, what we usually hear about bats (if we hear anything at all) are negative stereotypes that promote fearmongering. Throughout this monthly series, we will learn what these mysterious creatures are really like. I will tell you all about bats, why they are important, and what we can do to protect them. Bats are a major focus of our research at Palmetto Bluff, and some of our monthly posts will be descriptions of our research projects or updates on what we captured during our last netting session. Some of these captures are not bats, so stay tuned for surprise guests!

I’m looking forward to embarking on this journey with you. Please email me at lmoore@pbconservancy.org with any bat-related questions you have. I may even focus a future post on your question.

Up next month: busting myths about bats.

Conservation
Schedule a Real Estate Tour

Complete the fields below to be connected with a real estate agent and start your tour.