You are interested in the fascinating world of bats? How you can protect the bat and help it in its natural environment is described in more detail in the following article. First of all, here are some facts and interesting background knowledge about the bat in general and its behavioral patterns.
Unfortunately, bats are considered an endangered species worldwide. Also in Germany many species are on the red list. The bat’s habitats often overlap with those of humans. Whether in the attic, in tree hollows or wall niches – the small mammals like to look for a summer and winter quarters near human dwellings.
Even if the animals are not popular with everyone, it is worth protecting the bat. Because as insectivores they play an important role in nature.
Typical identifying features of the bats
Depending on the species, the bat is between three and 14 centimeters in size and weighs up to 200 grams. The German species, however, hardly reach a body length of more than five centimeters with a maximum weight of 40 grams – although their wingspan makes them appear much larger overall. The dense, silky fur has a gray-brown to blackish coloring, with the belly usually a little lighter than the rest. Very typical is the dentition with strongly pronounced canine teeth, which are helpful in hunting.
The elongated finger bones are particularly striking. Between them, the flight skin stretches to the neck and hind legs and tail. Thanks to this skin and the low body weight, the bats also succeed in rapid flight maneuvers when hunting prey.
How the bat reproduces?
The bat has cats, birds of prey and martens as natural enemies. If it does not fall victim to these, it can reach a lifespan of between ten and 30 years.
The female bat usually mates with several males. For this, a male awakens the chosen one from hibernation with an extra neck bite.
The special thing about it is that the egg of the female is fertilized only towards the end of hibernation, when it slowly gets warmer. In the case of European bats, this happens around the end of March.
The females bring then after a gestation period of maximum 70 days in each case only one young to the world. The rearing takes place in so-called week houses. The young are suckled here for up to eight weeks before learning to fly and switching to insects.
Bat genera and their occurrence
Bats, together with fruit bats, form the group of bats. About 100 different species are known worldwide, about 40 of them live in Europe. Except in Antarctica and on some remote islands, they can be found almost everywhere today.
The most common genera include the mouse-eared bats, smooth-nosed free-tailed bats, and bulldog bats. The largest of these is the Australian ghost bat, which has an impressive wingspan of 60 centimeters and a body length of 14 centimeters. The smallest species, with a body length of only three centimeters and a weight of two grams, is the bumblebee bat (pig-nosed bat).
Which behavior is typical for the bat?
The preferred habitat of bats is the air, as they hunt and eat insects flying all night long. During the day, they prefer to sleep in caves and crevices or, in the vicinity of humans, in attics and cellars. Basically, the bat sleeps hanging upside down, holding on to a suitable spot with its foot claws. The claws curve automatically due to its body weight, so that it can hardly fall down.
The bat hibernates after it has built up sufficient fat reserves. They usually become active at the end of March/beginning of April and then move to their summer roosts. During hibernation, bats reduce their metabolism to consume as little energy as possible. Unlike other hibernating animals, the bat wakes up regularly to check weather and roosting area.
Where is the bat typically found??
Bats live in different regions depending on the species. Some prefer cool forests, while others prefer heathland or areas with many lakes. Important is a sufficient food supply as well as summer and winter roosts in the vicinity.
They also like to stay near humans. For example, in parks and gardens, where they can often be seen catching insects after dark.
The bat orients itself by echolocation
The bat cannot see very well, but it can hear very well. It is able to hunt even in complete darkness by emitting ultrasonic waves and using their reflections for orientation. This echolocation system is not audible to humans. However, it allows the bat to see exactly where the prey as well as obstacles are located in the vicinity.
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The bat loves insects
The bat prefers to eat insects of all kinds. For example beetles, grasshoppers, flies and moths. Larger carnivorous bat species also like to eat smaller conspecifics.
What are the benefits of the bat for man and nature??
Bats play an important role in the environment and a functioning ecosystem. Because they not only eat a variety of insects, which naturally limits their abundance. They also pollinate flowers of plants and help spread seeds. Humans also benefit from the bat, because it catches a lot of annoying insects from the garden.
Bats as disease vectors
Not only since Corona (SARS-CoV-2) the transmission of diseases by bats has been a topic of discussion. Even before that, there was scientific evidence that bats can spread certain diseases.
For example, the bat rabies. Animals suffering from this disease often lie on the ground unable to fly and apathetic, appear disoriented, and bite around. Under no circumstances should you help bats with your bare hands, but always use bite-proof gloves.
However, humans do not need to be afraid of a bite, because the bat would never attack a human by itself. However, outdoor cats that like to hunt at night are at risk and can only be protected by vaccination.
Protect the bat – because there are many dangers
Bats are exposed to many dangers. Here are the most common ones described in more detail.
- Driven away by ignorance: They are often not very popular with humans. Many are afraid as a result of vampire myths even of the allegedly human-blood-sucking animals. Therefore, they are often driven away from attics or house walls out of ignorance, although they do not cause any damage to the masonry or insulation.
- Habitats are dwindling: Another problem is the destruction of their habitats by humans. Forests are cut down and old buildings, including hiding places, are removed or closed off, which would otherwise serve as roosting sites.
- Wind turbines: Wind turbines are dangerous for many animals. If the bat gets too close to one, multiple organ damage can result.
- Agriculture: Insecticides and pesticides are used in intensive agriculture. As a result, bats find less food and the population declines. Poisoning by eating animals contaminated with insect venom is also not uncommon.
- Climate change: Bats belong anyway already longer to the threatened species. Also the climate change makes them more and more difficult by the rising temperatures. They do not find their way into hibernation in time or are unable to complete it as usual. Continuous heat waves in summer make it even harder for them to survive, because they often can’t make it to the next watering hole. Often the still nursing mothers and their offspring die of thirst.
This is how you can protect the bat and ensure its survival
Do you want to protect bats to improve their chances of survival? If an animal has landed in your home or you have even found an injured bat? The following measures are recommended if you want to actively help bats.
Bat in the apartment?
In search of a shelter, bats get lost in houses and apartments from time to time. This is no reason to panic! They often hide behind curtains or try to find their way out by flying around.
It’s best to lock all doors from other rooms, turn off all lights and leave several windows wide open to help it fly out. But please not during the day, but only in the evening with the onset of dusk. Until then, you can simply let them sleep in peace. If you have thick, bite-resistant gloves, you can also capture them and release them at the window.
Beware: If it happens frequently that bats land in your home, a nest could be nearby. In this case, simple fly screens help to prevent the bats from entering.
Bats in the attic or basement?
Bats like to seek out attics, house siding or shutters, and generally old walls such as barns and stables for their summer or winter roosts. Since such roosts are becoming rarer and rarer, you can let them live in your attic or basement. However, make sure that they can fly in and out unhindered at any time.
You should also regularly remove excrement accumulations of the animals. But wait with it until after dusk, when most of the animals are out and about.
Woken up from hibernation?
Sometimes bats wake up from hibernation, but then do not find food. You can help hungry bats by feeding them flies or moths from the pet store. However, this is recommended only for experienced bat lovers.
Tip: A good help is also the local nature conservation association, which often offers a hotline for such cases. NABU’s bat hotline, 030-284984-5000, also provides nationwide information on the right thing to do when a bat needs help.
Make your property bat friendly
Are there old trees in your garden? Perfect, just leave the entire tree population as it is. For old tree hollows offer bats the ideal shelter in all weather conditions.
Do you have a larger property with a garage, shed, or even a barn that you rarely or never use? You can also use this to protect the bat. Bats can hibernate undisturbed if you provide them with safe access.
Protect bats and help injured bats
A bat crashed because it got too hot for it under the roof truss? Perhaps it has injured itself during a flight maneuver or it is a young animal, which cannot fly yet. With the right 1. You take care of it until it can manage on its own again.
A little water from an eyedropper or a small spoon is often drunk willingly by the bat. If breaks or open wounds are visible at first glance, the bat is immediately a case for the veterinarian. Transport it in a well-sealed box, as it can escape through the smallest of holes.
If you find an adult bat, the first thing you should do is move it to a safe, cool place. A cardboard box, which you cover with a cloth, is well suitable.
Put the bat outside in the evening at dusk slightly elevated, for example on a tree or a rough wall. Wait and see if it flies away on its own. If this is not the case, the animal may be injured and therefore unable to fly.
Very young bats cannot fly yet. They either have no fur at all or only a light downy coat. Go in search of their quarters to bring them there directly if possible. Usually the roost is not far from the place where they were found.
If you can’t find a shelter, you can take care of the animal yourself. For young animals milk is suitable especially for cat and dog puppies. Feeding usually works well with a paintbrush. Older animals like fresh or dead flies as well as moths. Mealworms are also eaten after initial habituation.
The bat near you
Do you know any other tips that protect bats and help them survive?
Or maybe you have already discovered some animals in your garden? What exactly did you observe?