Going batty at Fayette's library 2012.10.26

Written by David Green.

bat.boyHow long have bats been around?

Fossilized bats have been found dating back 40 to 55 million years ago, said Amanda Podach, educator for the Fulton Soil and Water Conservation office in Wauseon. They coexisted with dinosaurs.

Amanda visited Fayette’s after-school program Thursday at Normal Memorial Library, and brought along a freeze-dried bat for students to examine.

The bat gets a bad rap, needlessly frightening people, but it plays an important role in the ecosystem. The little brown bat—the species common to this area—is capable of eating 600 moths and mosquitoes in an hour, every night of the summer.

“That’s a big eater,” Amanda said.

Can bats bite? Of course, Amanda said, but anything with a mouth can bite. Bats don’t want anything to do with humans, and when a “giant” person approaches a small bat, the bat might act aggressively for self-protection.

There is a vampire bat, she said, but it lives far away in South America. The vampire bat has a numbing solution in its saliva that numbs the skin of a sleeping cow. The bat then makes a slit in the skin and laps up the blood like a cat. The cow sleeps right through the feeding.

There are more than a thousand species of bats spread around every continent but Antarctica, including one with a wingspan as wide as a human is tall.

It’s the only flying mammal, Amanda said, and an important member of the animal world.

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