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Bats are mammals, and members of the order Chiroptera. They are the second largest order of mammals in number of species. There are about 1000 species of bats, 14 of which live in Missouri. Of these, 9 are commonly found in caves.
Western Yellow Bat
A strong flier with yellowish fur, the southern yellow bat is a lowland species, adapted to both dry and wet habitats. It roosts in trees, particularly palms. These bats are often seen hunting over water, including over swimming pools. Very few species of bats have more than one or two young at a time, and most have just two nipples, but some bats in the genus Lasiurus have four nipples and can have triplets or quadruplets. Southern yellow bats most often have triplets. The young bats nurse for about two months before they are able to fly and forage for themselves.
Little is known regarding habitat, but like other lasiurine bats, it roosts in leafy vegetation of the Mexican Plateau, coastal western Mexico, including parts of Baja California, and the deserts of the southwestern United States. In New Mexico, it is known to roost in hackberry and sycamore trees. In Arizona, some have been found to hibernate among the dead fronds of palm trees, as several were located in these trees in Tucson during January and February. This bat may be extending it range in the United States as evidenced by it appearance at several sites in Arizona in recent years. Recent studies have shown this species is genetically different from the southern yellow bat (Lasiurus ega).
Habits: Most North American bats emit high frequency sounds (ultrasound) inaudible to humans and similar to sonar, in order to avoid obstacles, locate and capture insect prey, and to communicate. Bats also emit audible sounds that may be used for communication between them.Bats generally mate in the fall and winter, but the female retains the sperm in the uterus until spring, when ovulation and fertilization take place. Pregnant females may congregate in maternity colonies in buildings, behind chimneys, beneath bridges, in tree hollows, caves, mines, or other dark retreats. No nests are built. Births typically occur from May through July. Young bats grow rapidly and are able to fly within 3 weeks. Weaning occurs in July and August, after which the nursery colonies disperse.
Life cycle:Bats prepare for winter around the time of the first frost. Some species migrate relatively short distances, whereas certain populations of the Mexican free-tailed bat may migrate up to 1,000 miles (1,600 km). Bats in the northern United States and Canada may hibernate from September through May. Hibernation for the same species in the southern part of their range may be shorter or even sporadic. Some may fly during warm winter spells (as big brown bats may in the northeastern part of the United States). Bats often live more than 10 years.
Western Yellow Bat
Damage and Damage Identification: Bats are able to squeeze through narrow slits and cracks. For purposes of bat management, one should pay attention to any gap of approximately 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches (0.6 x 3.8 cm) or a hole 5/8 x 7/8 inch (1.6 x 2.2 cm). Such openings must be considered potential entries for at least the smaller species, such as the little brown bat. The smaller species require an opening no wider than 3/8 inch (0.95 cm), that is, a hole the diameter of a US 10-cent coin (Greenhall 1982). Openings of these dimensions are not uncommon in older wood frame structures where boards have shrunk, warped, or otherwise become loosened.
Common in urban areas, they often enter homes through open windows or unscreened fireplaces. If unused chimneys are selected for summer roosts, bats may fall or crawl through the open damper into the house. Sometimes bats may appear in a room, then disappear by crawling under a door to another room, hallway, or closet. They may also disappear behind curtains, wall hangings, bookcases, under beds, into waste baskets, and so forth. Locating and removing individual bats from living quarters can be laborious but is important. If all else fails, wait until dusk when the bat may appear once again as it attempts to find an exit. Since big brown bats may hibernate in the cooler recesses of heated buildings, they may suddenly appear (flying indoors or outdoors) in midwinter during a warm spell or a cold snap as they move about to adjust to the temperature shift.
Damage Prevention and Control Methods: It is not always possible or convenient to conduct a bat watch. Thus, a detailed inspection inside the building for bats or bat sign may be necessary to find specific roosts. Daytime is best, especially during the warmer part of the day. Bats roost in the most varied kinds of buildings and in every part from cellar to attic. Some types of buildings appear preferable (older houses, churches, barns, proximity to water) as do certain roost locations therein, especially areas with little disturbance, low illumination, little air circulation, and high temperatures. Often it is easy to locate bats, especially in warm weather in attics or lofts, where they may hang in clusters or side-by-side from the sloping roof lath, beams, and so forth. However, bats have the ability to find crevices and cavities, and if disturbed may rapidly disappear into the angles between converging beams, behind such beams or wallboards, into mortise holes on the underside of beams, and into the multilayered wall and roof fabrications.
Once it has been confirmed that bats are present, one must determine if there is damage, if there is a health risk, and if some intervention is warranted. There are circumstances in which â€śno actionâ€ť is the correct action because of the beneficial role of bats. In cases where there is risk of contact, damage from excreta accumulations, stains, and so on, intervention may be necessary.
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