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Know Your Species! The Northern Long-eared Bat

Photo by Lauren Makeyenko.

blog by Emily Stoll  • 

It’s a case of animal prejudice, plain and simple. But have no fear—Tifft Nature Preserve is here to clear the northern long-eared bat’s good name.

The northern long-eared bat, or the northern myotis, is one of nine bat species in New York State and has been found at Tifft. These little guys have a bad rap as carriers of rabies, rats with wings or even blood-suckers. What most people don’t realize is that you’re more likely to pick up rabies from a raccoon or skunk.

Also—contrary to popular belief—most of our batty buddies aren’t raging vampires; the northern long-eared bat prefers bugs. They love flies and small moths the best, and just one bat can consume up to 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour.

Some species of bats are even important for pollination, fertilization and spreading seeds. They’re also pretty darn cool. These little guys are the only mammal with powered flight. The northern long-eared bat’s nice big ears and high frequency voice makes it able to deal with the dense forest patches that other bats generally avoid. You can usually find them in the summer spread across the northeast, gathering in tree crevices for maternity colonies. By the time fall rolls around, they’ve switched to cave entrances, where they’ll gather in the hundreds, but they don’t winter the way you’d expect. Though they sometimes hang from cave ceilings or walls, they usually prefer squeezing into the rocks’ little cracks and crevices. Once in a while, if it’s a warm winter night, they might sneak out and fly around without feeding. We all get a little cabin fever, right?

You can check out some of these bats—just join Tifft for New Moon Walk and International Bat Night. The event will be at the preserve, 1200 Fuhrmann Blvd. in Buffalo, from 8 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 27. You can explore under the new moon while searching for deer, beavers and of course bats. There will even be a special program from 9:30 to 10 p.m. as licensed biologists from Ecology and Environment, Inc. conduct a bat survey. It’s $5 for the general public, and Buffalo Museum of Science members save 10%. Pre-registration is required, so call 825-6397 to save your spot.

The night will include cool scientific techniques like mist netting, which Tifft did last year for the first time to capture and identify bats. “This type of science is not shared with the public very often,” said Tifft Experience Manager Lauren Makeyenko in a recent email, so it’s a real treat when you get the chance to see. “It was so interesting to see the bats up close and learn about them first hand.”

Sign up for the event to learn more about our batty little buddies. You can learn more about Tifft on their website.

TAGGED: bats, know your species, moon walk, tifft, tifft nature preserve

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