Rodent-Proofing Your Premises

The degree of a structure’s susceptibility to rodent infestation depends on several considerations that require a professional such as Rodent Solutions who is knowledgeable and experienced in construction and rodent exclusion.

Rats and mice cause serious damage to all kinds of structures if they are allowed access to them. Damage by rodents has been documented in homes, apartments, hotels, office complexes, retail businesses, manufacturing facilities, food processing and warehouse facilities, public utility operations, farm and feed storage buildings, and other structures. Rodents cause damage to older buildings as well as new buildings. Ornamental plantings, accumulation of refuse, woodpiles, and other such sources of harborage and food are more quickly invaded and occupied by rodents when adjacent to an established rodent habitat.

Rodents destroy insulation, electrical wiring, plumbing, and other structural components of buildings. Insulation damage alone may amount to a loss of several thousand dollars in only a few years. Energy loss from damaged buildings results in added annual costs. Rodent-induced fires from damaged electrical wiring or nest building in electrical panels cause loss of property and threaten human safety.

Rodents also serve as vectors or reservoirs of a variety of diseases that are transmittable to humans. Additionally, they may be sources of swine dysentery, brucellosis, sarcoptic mange, and tuberculosis, all of which affect livestock or pets.

The most effective means of limiting rodent damage is rodent-proof construction improvements.. New buildings are often not built to prevent rodent entry. Rodent-proofing is a good investment. 

Physical Abilities of Rats and Mice

To prevent rodent entry, their capabilities must be understood.

Both rats and mice can:

  • run along or climb electrical wires, pipes, fences, poles, ropes, cables, vines, shrubs, and trees to gain entry to a building 
  • climb almost any rough vertical surface, such as wood, brick, concrete, weathered sheet metal, and many plastic products;
  • crawl horizontally along or through pipes, augers, conveyors, conduit, and underground utility and communications lines;
  • gnaw through a wide variety of materials, including lead and aluminum sheeting, window screens, wood, rubber, vinyl, fiberglass, plastic, and low-quality concrete or concrete block.

Rats can:

  • crawl through or under any opening higher or wider than 1/2 inch (1.3 cm);
  • climb the outside of vertical pipes and conduits up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) in diameter; climb the outside of larger pipes attached to buildings by bracing themselves between the wall and the pipe; climb the inside of vertical pipes, wall voids, or seams and joints between 1 1/2 and 4 inches (3.8 and 10.2 cm) in diameter;
  • jump from a flat surface up to 36 inches (91 cm) vertically and as far as 48 inches horizontally;
  • drop 50 feet (15 m) without being seriously injured;
  • burrow straight down into the ground for at least 36 inches (91 cm);
  • reach as high or wide as 13 inches (33 cm);
  • swim as far as 1/2 mile (800 m) in open water, dive through water traps in plumbing, and travel in sewer lines against a substantial water current. In areas where high rat populations exist, it is common for rats to enter buildings through toilets and uncovered drains.

House mice can:

  • enter openings larger than 1/4 inch (0.6 cm);
  • jump as high as 18 inches (46 cm) from a floor onto an elevated surface;
  • travel considerable distances crawling upside-down along screen wire;
  • survive and reproduce at a temperature of 24oF (-4oC) if adequate food and nesting material are available.
  • Many structures have inherently similar rodent entry areas due to similarity in design (particularly entry and service areas), utility sources, and building equipment. For the sake of simplicity, we have attempted to group similar structures and settings.

By gnawing,rats can gain entry through any opening greater than 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) across, and mice through any opening larger than 1/4 inch (0.6 cm). The paired front (incisor) teeth of rats and mice curve slightly inward. When given a rough surface or an edge to bite into, they can quickly gnaw into most materials. 

Commercial Office Buildings, Hotels, Hospitals, and Retail Stores. Commercial buildings are constructed from types of materials and design methods that vary greatly in the degree of susceptibility to rodent infestation (for example, metal and concrete versus wood). Most structures eventually become less rodent proof due to deterioration, alteration, or repair. Heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical service, and fire sprinklers provide some of the most commonly encountered rodent entry points.

Neoprene seals, spray-in-place foam, and similar products commonly used to close openings are not rodent proof. Even in new buildings, utility pipes, electrical conduit (often at meters or circuit breaker panels), water and gas lines, and communication cables generally have large openings that permit entry of mice and rats. Once rodents have entered walls, they generally have ready access to much of a building via holes for utility pipes and wires in the framing, and via overhead suspended ceilings or other types of construction adjacent to utility enclosures.

Specific problem areas include poorly sealed heating and air conditioning ducts; roof and wall vents installed without strong, well-attached hardware cloth screening; roof and wall joints and edges without properly installed metal flashing ; and doors hung unevenly or too high, or lined with unprotected soft rubber weather stripping. Refuse and food handling areas are likely to have the greatest rodent pressure. In older buildings, cracks in concrete slabs, brick and concrete block walls, or worn or damaged drain covers allow rodent entry. Air and elevator shafts and laundry chutes also merit close inspection.

The strange behavior of armadillos

There is an old joke that goes something like this: "Why did the chicken cross the road?" The answer follows: "To show the armadillo that it can be done."

All joking aside, it does seem like there are a lot of expired armadillos on the roadsides here in central Oklahoma. It begs the question -- what is going on?

Biology and natural history provide a clue to this dilemma.

The fact of the matter is that armadillos have a very wimpy sense of sight. It is very, very easy for meat-eating animals to sneak up close to these unwary creatures.

At the very last instance, the armadillo will be alerted to the nearby presence of danger. The armadillo is "hard-wired" to one proven reaction to this dire situation: it will jump straight up, startling the dangerous predator. That will give the armadillo the opportunity to hit the ground running and get some distance between itself and the predator before the predator can regain its composure and take off in a belated pursuit.

The crux of the problem is this: it is no longer the 1700s. In today's age, high-speed automobiles and highways are the norm. If you should happen to encounter an armadillo that is in your lane of traffic when you come barreling down the road, it will do you little good to swerve so that the armadillo will go underneath your vehicle, rather than being crushed by your vehicle's tires. When your vehicle comes right up to the armadillo, its reaction will be to leap skyward.

There is an old joke that goes something like this: "Why did the chicken cross the road?" The answer follows: "To show the armadillo that it can be done."

All joking aside, it does seem like there are a lot of expired armadillos on the roadsides here in central Oklahoma. It begs the question -- what is going on?

Biology and natural history provide a clue to this dilemma.

The fact of the matter is that armadillos have a very wimpy sense of sight. It is very, very easy for meat-eating animals to sneak up close to these unwary creatures.

At the very last instance, the armadillo will be alerted to the nearby presence of danger. The armadillo is "hard-wired" to one proven reaction to this dire situation: it will jump straight up, startling the dangerous predator. That will give the armadillo the opportunity to hit the ground running and get some distance between itself and the predator before the predator can regain its composure and take off in a belated pursuit.

The crux of the problem is this: it is no longer the 1700s. In today's age, high-speed automobiles and highways are the norm. If you should happen to encounter an armadillo that is in your lane of traffic when you come barreling down the road, it will do you little good to swerve so that the armadillo will go underneath your vehicle, rather than being crushed by your vehicle's tires. When your vehicle comes right up to the armadillo, its reaction will be to leap skyward.

That kind of defense strategy works well with hungry coyotes, but it is a tragic mistake when all it does is place the armadillo directly in front of a speeding vehicle's front bumper.

Apparently, the armadillo did not get the memo; today's date is 2015, not the year 1715. The armadillos, unfortunately, are still reacting to the world like they did before the advent of modern, high-speed traffic.

And, lest you ask: "Don't armadillos roll up into a ball when danger is near?," that is the ploy of Latin America's three-banded armadillos. Central Oklahoma has the nine-banded variety; the central Oklahoma armadillo's reaction to danger is to run away, rather than curling up into an armor-plated globe.

Let's give a cheer for the intelligent chicken! We'd do well to recruit some of these savvy creatures to take on a role as "life coach" for the "haven't-got-a-clue" armadillos.

It is somewhat regrettable that Ma Nature's armored creatures fare so poorly when they come in close proximity to humankind's transportation system, but there is no easy solution to this unfortunate situation.

Morgan Freeman was almost killed by an ARMADILLO!

His private plane blew two tires when it ran over critter on take off, then made a crash landing with collapsed gear

  • Pilot saw shortly after takeoff that the blown tires severed a hydraulic line
  • He alerted spotters on the ground so they could report about the damage
  • Twin-engine plane ran off runway during forced landing at a Tunica airport
  • No one was injured in the emergency landing at the Tunica Air Center
  • Freeman, 78, was heading to Texas to shoot for the series The Story of God

The plane carrying actor Morgan Freeman, 78, on Saturday that was forced to make an emergency landing hit an armadillo and blew two tires during takeoff from a Mississippi airport, his friend said.
Mayor Bill Luckett of Clarksdale, a friend of the Oscar-winning actor, said that the twin-engine plane had its landing gear collapse and ran off the runway during a forced landing at an airport in Tunica.
The cities are close by in northwestern Mississippi, with Tunica about 40 miles from Tennessee.

No one was injured in the emergency landing at the Tunica Air Center that was possibly the result of an armadillo running out on the runway at the Fletcher Field airport, according to FOX13.
The pilot of the plane realized what happened quickly and he alerted spotters on the ground so they could report how bad the damage was because when the tires blew, they severed a hydraulic line.
Pilot Jimmy Hobson spent several hours circling and burning off fuel as a precautionary measure after FAA officials found pieces of the ruined line and tire parts on the runway at Fletcher Field.
Air traffic controllers sent the plane to Tunica because it has a long runway that would have been been necessary for a safe landing if the aircraft's brakes were non-functional.
When the plane hit the runway, it went about 2,000 feet before it began to skid prior to stopping.

A statement from the Tunica Airport said there was minimal damage to Freeman's plane during the forced landing.
Airport spokesman Patrick Collins said in an email Sunday that he could not give specifics because federal authorities are still investigating the Saturday incident.
Freeman said in a statement released by his publicist Saturday that neither he nor his pilot was hurt but 'I cannot say the same about my plane.'
The statement sent by Freeman's publicist said: 'Sometimes things don't go as planned and a tire blew on takeoff, which caused other problems.
'But thanks to my excellent pilot Jimmy Hobson we landed safely without a scratch.
'I appreciate the concern and prayers for our safety.'

Man Shoots Armadillo, Bullet Hits Mother-In-Law

Mother's Day may be a little awkward for Larry McElroy next month.

Sheriff's deputies in Lee County, Georgia, said McElroy, 54, accidentally shot his mother-in-law with a 9mm pistol when he was trying to shoot an armadillo, reports.

The armadillo died from the shot, but the bullet ricocheted off the animal, hit a fence and went into the back door of his mother-in-law's mobile home -- a distance of about 100 yards.

Then it went through the recliner where the 74-year-old woman was sitting and into her back, according to

Carol Johnson, 74, was taken to a nearby hospital and is expected to recover, according to

Officials have not said whether McElroy faces any charges for the shooting.

James Morgan, the Dougherty County Extension Coordinator, told WALB TV that shooting armadillos is recommended for residents that live in the county, or a trap can be used to capture them.

"At first I ask if they live in the city or county, because shooting is an effective way of getting rid of them. However, you have to be safe when you do that," Morgan told the station.

Florida Bat Maternity Season Begins; Touching Roosts Illegal

It’s illegal for Floridians to remove any bats roosting in their homes beginning April 15. Bats start having their pups this month, and the state says you cannot touch those roosts for the next four months. This practice is particularly important in the Southwest Florida region.

Removing a mother bat this time of year would likely mean her babies would starve to death in the roost. Amy Clifton is a wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. She said she especially does not want people touching roosts in Southwest Florida.

"You're in the territory of the Florida bonneted bat, which is a federally endangered species," said Clifton. "So that's what's particularly important in the Fort Myers area to follow those guidelines because there could be a fairly endangered bat inside some of these structures."

She said neighbors help enforce this policy because they tend to watch each other for signs of illegal activity. But she said people usually comply with their recommendations. Florida’s bat maternity season runs until August 14th.


This SARS-like Virus in Bats Could Jump to Humans, Scientists Say

(HealthDay News) — A newly identified SARS-like virus in bats appears to be able to jump to humans without mutation, new research suggests.

However, it’s not yet clear whether it would then be able to spread from person to person, the researchers said.

A worldwide outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003 was caused by a coronavirus that jumped from animals to humans. That outbreak resulted in 8,000 infections and nearly 800 deaths, the researchers noted.

“Studies have predicted the existence of nearly 5,000 coronaviruses in bat populations, and some of these have the potential to emerge as human pathogens,” senior study author Ralph Baric, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a university news release.

“So this is not a situation of ‘if’ there will be an outbreak of one of these coronaviruses, but rather when and how prepared we’ll be to address it,” Baric added.

Baric and his colleagues looked at how the SARS-like virus in Chinese horseshoe bats behaves. They found that it enters the bodies of bats and humans in the same way. The researchers also noted that this virus replicates as well as the SARS virus in primary human lung cells, the preferred target for infection.

There is no treatment for the newly discovered SARS-like virus, the researchers said.

The findings are important in light of ongoing debate over a U.S. government decision that considerably slows the development of vaccines or treatments for potentially dangerous coronaviruses, the researchers said.

Baric said “building resources, rather than limiting them, to both examine animal populations for new threats and develop therapeutics is key for limiting future outbreaks.”

In the midst of Florida's 13 species of bats giving birth

They're not flying rodents, they're not blind and they have never been spotted swarming away from a blood-drained human corpse.

Despite their associations with witchcraft, Count Dracula and disease, Florida's 13 species of bat are highly valued creatures, consuming vast quantities of mosquitoes and agricultural pests as they fly unseen across the night sky. At this time of year, however, they need our help.

Maternity season for bats officially runs from April 16 to Aug. 14, when seasonal restrictions take effect against installing bat-exclusion barriers on houses and other buildings. During this time, female bats give birth and nurse their single pup. An exclusion device – which allows bats to leave but not re-enter – would allow the mother to go out and forage but prevent her from returning to care for her pup.

David Diaz, president of American Bat Removal of Wellington , said people are shocked when told they have to wait to get rid of problem bats, which can infest houses and deposit guano and urine around their new home.

"They always say, 'Do you mean to tell me that bats are more important than people?'" he said. "I have to explain to them they only give birth to one baby a year, and if you put up an exclusion net the baby's going to starve to death."

Several species live in South Florida, from the highly endangered Florida bonneted bat, which may be down to a few hundred individuals, to the abundant Brazilian free-tailed bat, which establishes colonies in houses and under bridges that can run into the thousands.

One reason bats make their homes in houses is that they have lost their natural habitat of trees and caves to urban development, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"They're associated with scary stuff," said Terry Doonan, mammal conservation coordinator for the commission. "But they're just little animals trying to make a living."

Diaz said he recently worked jobs ranging from 50 or 60 bats roosting in a pair of condo units on PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens to about 1,000 living in a high-rise hotel in Orlando. The worst infestation he ever saw was in a foreclosed house in Sarasota.

"There were easily 4,000 to 5,000 bats," he said. "It was Halloween night when I was there and set up the enclosure net. It looked like a black cloud when they came out."

Most South Florida bats are small. The tricolored bat, named for its multicolored hairs, is just two inches long and weighs half an ounce, Doonan said.

Like pigeons, black rats and great white sharks, bats suffer from something of an image problem. But not only do they consume harmful insects, but they also sing.

Kirsten Bohn, research assistant professor at Florida International University, has recorded bat songs, not just the eerie cheeping you hear in the movies. They go very fast and occur at a high frequency, so for the human ear the songs may just seem like buzzing, but when she records them and slows them down, she can hear songs of complexity and organization.

"They're very social," she said. "They make all kinds of sounds. They actually sing like birds."


New Study Says: Bats more likely than rodents to carry disease

Rodents hugely outnumber bats, but bats are more likely than rodents to carry viruses that can be transmitted between animals and humans, according to new research by Colorado State University disease ecologists.

"There's been a lot of speculation that bats might be special in some way as far as their potential to host zoonotic diseases," said Angela Luis, a postdoctoral fellow who conducted the research with Colleen Webb, a biology professor at Colorado State. Zoonotic are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. "We found that although there are twice as many rodent species as there are bat species, bats hosted more zoonotic viruses per species than rodents."

Luis and Webb scoured existing studies to produce their findings, which appear this week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society-B Biological Sciences. The research was funded by Research and Policy for Infectious Disease Dynamics, or RAPIDD, through the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Bats carry SARS, Ebola, Nipah and Hendra viruses – all of which can be deadly to humans. The researchers found that bats were more likely to share viruses such as these between species and that viruses may pass more easily between different bat species that live in the same geographic range than between rodent species.

While humans should keep their distance from bats, the ecosystem benefits from healthy bat populations that eat insects and pollinate fruits, Luis said. Bats eat enough insects to account for as much as $3 billion worth of pesticide control annually in the United States.

"Even though this work shows that bats are special as far as hosting these nasty diseases, they're really important ecologically," Luis said. "We want to promote limiting bat and human contact, which will be beneficial for both bat conservation and human health."


10 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know Bats Could Do Posted by 

Everyone knows that bats use echolocation to get around. Every five-year-old knows that. Nowadays, we know that the ability isn’t unique to bats. Dolphins, whales, and even some birds and mice do it, too. But what we didn’t know until recently is just how sophisticated and powerful bat voices really are. Researchers are finding out that these unique creatures put their strange vocalizations to all kinds of amazing uses. The night is filled with the chirps and squeaks of these aerial hunters, and we are only just now unraveling their secrets. If you thought Flipper’s clicks and whistles were impressive, prepare to meet the true master of sound.

They Can’t Be TrickedIt was once thought that bats could only detect moving insects. In fact, some moths hold perfectly still when they hear a bat coming. Apparently, the common big-eared bat of South America didn’t get the memo. Research has revealed that they can detect sleeping dragonflies that are holding perfectly still. The big-eared bat “ensonifies” the target with a constant stream of sonar. Within three seconds, they can determine if the target in question is edible. This way, the bat can chow on sleeping insects that apparently can’t hear a bat screaming at them. Of course, scientists thought all of this was impossible at first. There should be no way that a bat’s echolocation is sensitive enough to determine different shapes. They say it like this: “Active perception of silent and motionless prey in dense understory vegetation by echolocation alone has long been regarded impossible.” But the common big-eared bat does it anyway. Just to rub it in science’s face, the common big-eared bat can also tell the difference between a real dragonfly and a fake one. Researchers tested the bats by putting out real dragonflies and test dummies shaped like insects which were made of paper and tin foil. Though all the bats were interested in the fakes, not one took a bite out of the imposters. These bats can not only determine the shape of an object with echolocation, but they can hear the difference in the material as well.

Bats Echolocate Plants

Lots of bats survive on fruits alone, but they still only go out at night. So how do they find a meal in the dark? Scientists figured they had to be homing in with their noses. That’s because it should be really hard to sort out individual shapes among the foliage with echolocation. Everything should theoretically be a blur. Sure, it’s possible that bats can find bugs on leaves, but no one thought these winged rodents could use sound to distinguish between plants (bats aren’t really rodents, by the way). Glossophagine bats can do just that; they can find their favorite plants using only sound. Scientists have no idea how they accomplish this feat. “The echoes created by plants are highly complex signals, combining together all the reflections from the many leaves that a plant contains.” In other words, it’s incredibly difficult. Then again, glossophagine bats don’t seem to have any problems. They can sort out where the flowers and fruit are located without any difficulty. Some plants even have leaves shaped like satellite dishes designed specifically to attract bats. Once again, bats prove that we still have a lot to learn about sound.

High Frequency

A bat’s ultrasonic chirps can get pretty high. Human hearing functions in a range from 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz, which is pretty good. For reference, the best soprano singer can only reach a note of around 1.76 kilohertz. Most bats can chirp in a range of 12 to 160 kilohertz, which is comparable to dolphins. The clear-winged woolly bat makes the highest-pitched sound of any animal yet discovered. Their range starts at 235 kilohertz—significantly higher than humans can hear—and maxes out at 250 kilohertz. This little furry mammal can make sounds 120 times higher than the best singer in the world. Why do they need this powerful audio equipment? Researchers think these high frequencies “make the bats’ sonar beam very focused and short-ranged.” In the dense jungles where they live, this might give them the edge in locating insects among all the clutter of leaves and foliage. They can focus their sonic sight like no other bat.

Super Ears

The pointy ears of bats never get much attention. It’s always the sound itself that everyone is interested in, but never the receiving mechanism. Well, Virginia Tech’s engineering department finally checked out bat ears. At first, no one believed what they found. In one-tenth of a second (100 milliseconds), one of these bats can “alter his ear shape significantly in ways that would suit different acoustic sensing tasks.” How fast is that? It takes humans about three times longer to blink than it does for the horseshoe bat to change the shape of its ears to tune into specific echoes. Bat ears are super antennas. Not only can they wiggle their ears at blinding speeds, but they can “process overlapping echoes arriving just 2 millionths of a second apart and distinguish between objects that are just 0.3 millimeters apart.” For reference’s sake, 0.3 millimeters is about the width of a human hair. It’s no wonder the Navy studies bats. Their biological sonar equipment is far better than any technology we’ve come up with.

Bats Recognize Their Friends

Like us, bats have friends that they like to hang out with. Every day when the hundreds of bats in the colony get ready to bed down, they will roost with the same social group again and again. How do they find each other among the mob? They shout out to their friends, of course. Research has shown that bats can recognize the calls of individuals in their social group. Each bat has a “special vocalization that [carries] an individual acoustical signature.” This sounds an awful lot like saying bats have names. These unique individual vocalizations are thought to be greetings. Once friends meet up, they take turns smelling each other’s armpits—because nothing says BFFs like sniffing bat pits. Another way bats communicate their individuality is when they’re hunting for food. When multiple bats are hunting in the same area, they will emit a foraging call while homing in on prey. The purpose of this is to say, “Hey, this bug belongs to me.” Amazingly, these foraging calls are also unique to the individual, so when someone is shouting, “Mine!” the other bats in the area know who said it.

Telephone System

Colonies of disc-winged bats are nomads that stay on the move to avoid predators. They bed down in the curled-up leaves of heliconia and calathea plants, which can accommodate a handful of the small bats. How do these roaming furballs keep in contact with the rest of the colony if they’re spread out across a forest? They use the natural speaker system to signal their friends. The leaf funnels help amplify the calls of the bats inside increasing them by up to two decibels. The leaves also make them “highly directional.” Studies show that bats that were already in their leafy tent had a special call to help their friends home in on them. Bats on the outside called back, playing a game of Marco Polo, until they could locate their brethren. They typically had no problems finding the correct roost. The leaves work even better at turning up the volume of incoming calls, ramping them up by as much as 10 decibels. It’s like living inside of a megaphone.

Noisy Wings

Not all bats are vocal creatures. As a matter of fact, most Old World fruit bats don’t have the ability to create the same clicks and squeaks that most bats use for echolocation. That doesn’t mean they can’t get around at night, though. It was recently discovered that many kinds of fruit bats can navigate with clapping sounds they make with their wings. In fact, researchers were so astounded by this discovery that they went to great lengths to make sure these sounds weren’t coming from the bats mouths. They even went as far as “sealing the bats’ mouths and anesthetizing their tongues.” These bats got the Novocain-and-tape treatment just so scientists could be 100 percent sure they weren’t cheating by using their mouths. So, how are these bats using their wings to make noises that they use for echolocation? Believe it or not, no one has quite figured that out yet. Flying and clapping at the same time is a secret these clever mammals have yet to give up. It is, however, the first discovery of any animal using non-vocally produced sounds for navigation, and scientists are very excited about that.

Whisper Vision

Since bats find prey with echolocation, some of the prey animals, namely moths, have developed the ability to detect bat sonar. This illustrates the classic evolutionary battle between predator and prey. As a carnivore develops a weapon, its potential meal figures out a way to counter it. Many moths will drop to the ground and hold still when they hear a bat approaching. The Pallas’s long-tongued bat has figured out a way to beat the moth’s sensitive hearing. Researchers were surprised to find that these bats dined almost exclusively on moths that should be able to hear them coming. So how do they catch their meal? The Pallas’s long-tongued bat employs a quieter form of sonar that the moths can’t detect. Instead of echolocation, they have whisperlocation. They use the equivalent of bat stealth to swoop down on the unsuspecting moths. Research on another type of whispering bat called the barbastelle showed that its vocalizations were 100 times fainter than those of other bats.

Fastest Mouth Around

There are normal, run-of-the-mill muscles, and then there are super muscles. Rattlesnakes have extreme muscles in their tails that make the rattle work at super speeds. The toadfish’s swim bladder is the fastest muscle among vertebrates. When it comes to mammals, nothing is faster than the larynx of a bat. It can contract 200 times per second. That’s 100 times faster than you can blink. With every contraction, they can make a sound. Researchers wondered what the upper limit of bat sonar was. Since it only takes one millisecond for echoes to return to the bat, their calls would start to overlap at 400 echoes per second. Studies show they can hear up to 400 echoes per second, so it’s only the larynx slowing them down. In theory, there may be some bats out there that can break the existing record. No other known mammal has any muscle that moves this fast. The reason they can perform these astounding sonic feats is that their cells actually have more mitochondria (the batteries of the body) and calcium-shuttling proteins. This gives them more power and allows them to contract more often. Their muscles are literally supercharged.

Bats Go Fishing

Some bats hunt fish. This seems to defy all reason; echolocation doesn’t penetrate water. It just bounces off like hitting a wall. So, how do fishing bats catch fish at all? Their echolocation is so sensitive that it can detect the ripples on the surface that give away the fish underneath. The bat never actually sees the fish. Their echolocation never reaches the prey itself. They find fish beneath the surface by reading the troughs and peaks of the water with sound. That is an astounding trick. It turns out that some bats use the same technique for frogs. If a frog sitting in the water sees a bat, it will hold still. The ripples around it give it away. Another interesting fact about bats and water is that from birth, they are programmed to believe any acoustically smooth surface is water, and they’ll fly down to get a drink. Apparently, if one were to put a smooth plate in the jungle, young bats would dive into it face-first in an attempt to quench their thirst. So on one hand, bat sonar is so acute that they can read the surface of a lake like a book. On the other hand, juvenile bats can’t tell the difference between a serving platter and a puddle.


Caught 'napping': First direct evidence of migratory hoary bats hibernating

Perched among the branches and needles of California's redwood forests are nestled wayfaring hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus). A migratory species capable of traveling hundreds of miles, hoary bats may wander throughout western North America before settling into California's north sleep.

While it's not unusual for some species of bat to migrate or other species to hibernate, it is unusual to find a species of bat that does both. Hoary bats are one of North America's largest bats at 5 inches in length and also one of the continent's most distinguished with its frosted fur for which it takes its name.

Researchers with the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station have documented the first recorded evidence of hoary bats going into a state of torpor, or hibernation. Published earlier this month in Scientific Reports and just in time for National Bat Week, Oct. 24-31, "First Direct Evidence of Long-distance Seasonal Movements and Hibernation in a Migratory Bat" reports newly discovered behaviors in hoary bats.

"It's commonly assumed that species that migrate do so to reach areas that allow them to continue feeding and remain somewhat active throughout the winter," said lead author Ted Weller, an ecologist with the Forest Service. "But our findings surprised even our own research team by showing that hoary bats spend much of the winter in hibernation."

In September 2014, Weller and his colleagues tagged several bats within Humboldt Redwoods State Park with GPS tracking devices and another group of bats with a device that monitored light levels, body temperatures and activity, which allowed them to understand how bats responded to varying weather conditions.

"While such tracking and monitoring technology has existed for a while, it hasn't been until somewhat recently that these units were made small enough to be affixed to animals of this size," Weller said.

A month later, two of the GPS-equipped bats were recaptured and their data downloaded. One of the bats met the expected behavior of "site fidelity," with its longest single-day trek being about 4 miles from the initial capture site. The second bat was surprising in that it had produced multiple single-day treks ranging from 30 to 45 miles. However, it was the third bat recaptured several months later that produced the most intriguing behavior.

For the month of October, Bat VHF5 flew more than 600 miles, making a loop into southern Oregon, then into interior California, then over to the Nevada-California border, and then back again into interior California.

"It's hard to determine what led to such a journey," Weller said. "Was he seeking favorable temperatures and humidity for roosting and foraging? Was he trying to intercept females to mate with as they migrated to their wintering grounds?"

The monitoring devices attached to the other group of bats also offered new insights into the species. Two bats from that group were recaptured in spring, with one of the bat's devices having captured 224 days of data. Based on lowered body temperatures and inactivity, that bat exhibited the signs of being in a torpor state from November 2014 through April 2015, including a 40-day stretch without flying.

Which again leads researchers to the question: Why would a species capable of migrating hibernate? The answer could lie within the bats' roosting habitat.

"Hoary bats roost outside in trees as opposed to inside caves," Weller said. "It's possible that hoary bats are evolved to hibernate, but would freeze if they did so in their northern summer territories."

The Redwoods, in particular, are ideal in that they offer an environment with lots of shelter, cool temperatures and plenty of moisture to reduce the risk of dehydration.

Similar to other migratory species, understanding seasonal movements and wintering habits are essential for conservation efforts. And because most bat research is confined to summer when bats are most active, these findings are especially useful.

"This research has provided us with a valuable look into the lives of hoary bats rarely before seen, and until now, never before documented to this extent," Weller said. "Knowing more about their lives outside of the summer months will help us better understand what steps might best promote their conservation."

Source: /  This is a Hoary bat. Photo Credit: Ana Davidson

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