Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Did You Know?

There’s a disease called white nose syndrome that’s impacting multiple species of bats and is very likely to endanger even the most common variety. Simplified, the disease causes a white fungus to grow on the noses of infected bats during hibernation which depletes fat reserves and immune responses causing bats to die. In severe cases it also grows on wings, ears, and tails. Most bats die in the winter, some in the summer when infected and weakened too much to recover.

Bat species account for nearly one quarter of all mammals world-wide. There are 45 native to North America. The six in Pennsylvania are all infected to some extent already. White nose syndrome seems to affect all varieties of bats indiscriminately and has been found in 13 states as well as two Canadian provinces. To date, the cause is unknown as is the cure.

Each bat eats between 2000 and 6000 insects nightly so the potential for a population explosion among insects such as mosquitoes is tremendous. So far the impact this will have on agriculture is all speculation but the damage that could result from a substantial decrease in bats is great.

Bats reproduce slowly, generally only one offspring per year so the recovery time for the bat population would be very long. On top of the white nose syndrome about half the bat species in the world are already endangered due to habitat destruction and human pollution. Makes it questionable as to whether some bats will ever manage to recover at all. Sad.

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