In Florida, there are 13 native bat species, and 7 “accidental” species. Bats in Florida are mainly insectivorous and locate their prey using echolocation, a method of using sound waves to navigate and locate food. Many of Florida’s bat species roost colonially and colonies can range from a few bats to many thousands. However, several of Florida’s bat species are solitary roosters. The most important natural roost site for bats in Florida are trees with cavities, trees with peeling bark, palms, and caves.
Bats are ecologically and economically beneficial. They serve critical roles worldwide as insect pest controllers, pollinators, seed-dispersers and fertilizers. Florida’s native bats are insectivorous, feeding on a variety of night-flying insects, making them a critical part of the natural landscape. Bats consume many insects that are agricultural and community pests. Incredibly, a single bat has been known to consume up to 3,000 insects per night. Scientists have researched bat physiology to help treat human medical conditions. Studies have shown saliva from vampire bats contains thrombolytic properties that can be used to combat blood-clotting diseases and prevent clotting during surgery.
Bats are nocturnal, meaning they are active mostly at night. During the day and during colder months, bats will take refuge or roost using many different natural and manmade structures, including hollow trees, Spanish moss, tree bark, caves, bridges, culverts, utility poles, bat houses and buildings. During summer, female bats seek roosts that have consistently high temperatures in order to keep newborn bats warm while they are out foraging at night. In Florida, bats mostly mate in the fall and winter. But female bats usually do not give birth until the spring when insect populations increase. Most female bats give birth to only one baby bat, called a pup, each year. For their size, bats are the slowest reproducing mammals. Bats do not build nests. Pregnant females of some species will gather together in nursery colonies when they are ready to have their pups. They normally give birth from mid-April through July, and their young begin to fly within 3 to 6 weeks. The young bats are usually weaned from their mothers by mid-August, when the juveniles are able to fly and search for food on their own. Bats will not reach reproductive maturity until they are about 1 year old. This is considerably longer than most small mammals. From Mid-April to Mid-August bats that are nesting / roosting in attic spaces of residential or business buildings are NOT ALOUD TO BE REMOVED.
Diseases Spread by Bats
Several highly fatal diseases have been linked to bats. Rabies is perhaps the most well-known disease associated with bats. An exposure to rabies most commonly occurs when a person is bitten by a rabid animal. It can also be transmitted when the saliva from a rabid animal comes in contact with a person's mouth, eyes, nose, or a fresh wound.
Histoplasmosis is another disease associated with bats. Its symptoms vary greatly, but the disease primarily affects the lungs. Occasionally, other organs are affected. When this happens it can be fatal if untreated.
In addition, Histoplasmosis is caused by a fungus that grows in soil and material contaminated with droppings from animals, including bats. Droppings, also known as bat guano, can contaminate the soil and cause infectious spores to be released when the soil is disturbed.
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