Friday, October 7, 2011

Just in time for Halloween- Bats in Texas!

Halloween season has arrived and people are putting out their cobwebs, carving pumpkins and buying decor to achieve the ultimate spooky decor for trick-or-treaters. Texans, however, don't need to invest in any rubber bats to set the mood. Bats- dead and alive are showing up earlier and more frequently across the state. With possibly the worst drought in 80 years, bat behaviors across Texas are changing.

Lack of rain creates a depletion in insects, forcing millions of bats to emerge before nightfall for food runs, hungry. The bats usually emerge around 8:30 at night fall, but they are now forced to "go out to dinner" around 6:30. While the earlier dinner makes for more bat sightings, it also puts the bats at risk, making them more susceptible to natural predators.

"Some experts have already noticed fewer bats emerging from caves and have seen evidence that more infant bats are showing up dead, hinting at a looming population decline," reported Michael Graczyk, Associated Press.

However, Texas A&M biologist Mike Smotherman isn't so sure the behavioral changes are dire. Smotherman said his studies show if bats don't like the food or water, they just move somewhere else.

Read more of Graczyk's article and check out a detailed video featuring the Bracken Bat Cave in Bracken, Texas.

For more information regarding bats, make sure to check out Loren K. Ammerman, Christine L. Hice, and David J. Schmidly's Bats of Texas (TAMU 2011), available in November. With all new illustrations, color photographs, revised species accounts, updated maps, and a sturdy flexible binding, this new edition of the authoritative guide to bats in Texas will serve as the field guide to anyone interested (or afraid) of bats. Order an advance copy and read more about the book here!

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