Guest post by Gaelyn Johnson
Bats are mammals, and they start giving birth when they are 1 year old.
Bats only give birth once a year, usually in June. The mother is hanging from her feet from the ceiling of the cave in the highest spots where it is warm. This is the nursery.
The pup is born feet first with its wings crossed over its chest. The mother has a flap of skin that catches the newborn and then she brings it up to nurse it, and I guess she then hangs it up from the nursery ceiling.
Mother bats nurse their young until they can fly which is usually around August.
The pups get one chance to fly. If they fall they are likely dead.
Bats use their finger bones in their wings to control their wings so they can hover, dive or turn sharply. They are the only flying mammals.The mother leaves to find food and may be eaten and then no other bat will adopt her pup so he/she will die. She also mates at this time.
They leave behind grease or an oily stuff on the rocks where they hung, and nothing will ever grow in that spot. It looks like black stuff on the ceiling.
Where the bats hangout there are huge piles of guano below. Guano is bat poo. Bats have been pooing in this same place in Kartchner Caverns for 45,000 to 50,000 years. Cave spiders, mites, camel beetles and bacteria along with something like 90 other organisms digest the guano. Scientists have found at least 20 new species on the guano at Kartchner Caverns.
Bats use a really high sound that humans can’t hear to judge how far away, or how big or small an object is, so they can dodge it. Or if there is an opening in the wall they can find it and go through it.
The natural opening into Kartchner Caverns is about the size of a grapefruit and that’s how the bats get into the caves.
Every bat eats half it’s weight everyday. If I weighed 60 lbs and I were a bat I’d be eating 30 lbs of bugs every single day. If I was a bat I’d like that!
The Kartchner bats eat about 1,000 lbs of bugs every summer, which is good for the park because some of those insects are actually pests to the farmers.
Scientists have tried to tag these bats but so far those ones have been eaten so they aren’t sure yet where these bats migrate to. They thought they went to Mexico but now they aren’t so sure.
The Big Room tours are closed when the bats are there because the Park Rangers don’t want to intrude on them. When we went on our tour we saw the bat guano and the grease left on the ceiling of the cave but no bats. They left in September.
Bats are really cool!
- Appreciating the bats of Mammoth Cave (dawnofunderstanding.wordpress.com)