Know the Benefits of Bats in Colorado

  • Bats in Colorado are poorly understood. All bats in the state are insectivorous. Some are aerial insectivore; some are gleaners, picking insects off vegetation; and others are terrestrial predators, feeding on ground-dwelling insects such as arachnids, such as spiders.
  • Bats are also highly important in the ecology of caves. Because bats often use deep caverns for roost sites, their droppings (guano) provide energy and nutrients on which insects, mice, rats, and even fish can survive. Bat guano probably has positive effects on plant growth where colonies of bats congregate in the open.
  • Bats are also important as components of food webs and are prey for snakes, owls, ravens, jays, raccoons, foxes, and skunks.
  • Many of our favorite tropical fruits and nuts—including bananas, avocados, mangos, breadfruit, dates, figs, cloves and cashews—are now, or were in the past, dependent on bats. In Southeast Asia, the harvest of fruit of the durian tree, which is pollinated almost exclusively by a cave-dwelling nectar-feeding bat, accounts for about $100 million in sales annually.
  • In Thailand, bat guano is valued as the best fertilizer available, and in the tiny region of Sarawak, Malaysia, the entire black and white pepper crop is fertilized with bat guano.
  • Insectivorous bats consume enormous quantities of harmful forest and agricultural pests. A bat’s diminutive size—averaging about 8 grams—belies its voracious appetite; a single bat may consume up to 3,000 insects nightly. Mosquitoes are a common prey of a number of bats in North America.
  • Bat longevity, disease resistance, ability to become torpid easily, and sonar capabilities make bats useful in scientific research. For example, because some bat species seem to be resistant to rabies, they have been used in investigations of disease immunity. Because some can survive in environments that are lethal to other animals (little brown bats can survive temperature extremes of 21 degrees to 131 degrees F., and cave bats can tolerate extremely high levels of carbon dioxide), bats have been used in a variety of experiments in space biology.
  • The sonar capabilities of bats have been used as models in the development of navigational aids for the blind and for the development of aircraft radar systems.
  • The wing membranes of bats are nearly transparent, highlighting the blood vessels. This has been helpful to researchers studying the effects of smoking and alcohol consumption, blood cell mechanics and tissue regeneration.
  • Bats are used in studies involving aging, contraception, artificial insemination, drug testing, vaccine development, low-temperature surgical techniques, and speech pathology.
Beneficial Bats 120 #C Park Street
Gypsum, CO 81637
Phone: (970) 524-5945
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