The Indiana Bat
You probably have not heard about the Indiana bat, but it is an extremely interesting bat species. The Indiana bat is a species of a bat that is on the endangered species list. It has been on that lists since the 1960’s.
About the Indiana Bat
The Indiana Bat is found mostly on the eastern part of the U.S., however as the name suggests the bat mostly lives in Indiana. The southern part of Indiana contains most of the population. Currently there are only about 400,000 Indiana bats in existence. That is only about half the number of bats as when the species first become listed as endangered. With this decline in the number of bats there are serious concerns about the long term viability of the bat.
Indiana bats are very small. They only weigh a quarter of an ounce. That is about as much as three pennies. The bats have a fairly long wingspan. Their wingspan is about 9 to 11 inches. The Indiana bat has black fur. The bat hibernates during the winter in abandoned mines and caves. In the summer the Indiana bat is found inside dead or dying trees. Indiana bats live on a diet of flying insects. Because the bats mostly consume insects they are a great way to control the population of insects in the area.
The Indiana bat reproduces during the fall. After mating they begin hibernation. The female Indiana bat stores the sperm throughout the winter hibernation and then they become pregnant when the spring comes. This is a common technique for bats that hibernate throughout the winter.
In the summer, the pregnant females form maternity colonies. Sometimes these colonies are as large as one hundred bats. Each female bat can only give birth to one pup every year. The young pups are nursed by their mother and the mother can only leave the tree they are in to forage for food. The pups stay in the maternity colony for the whole first summer. After the first summer the bats are one their own and probably will join a colony.
One of the biggest threats to the Indiana bat population is White nose syndrome. This illness has killed a millions of bats since 2006. Bats that have white nose syndrome typically appear to have a white nose. But that nose is actually white fungus which is killing the bat. The white nose syndrome has been spreading throughout the northeast United States. The syndrome has been seen as far south as West Virginia and as far north as Vermont. This syndrome is having an extreme impact on the Indiana bat population. The syndrome seems to be impacting all of the bats in the Northeast and it does seem to be spreading.
Another threat to the Indiana bat is the destruction of the Indiana bats habitats. The Indiana bats winter habitat is under threat because its caves are being commercialized. The summer habitat of the Indiana bat is being lost due to deforestation and forest management.
Pesticides and contaminants present another threat to the Indiana bat. Pesticides reduce the number of insects that are available for the Indiana bat to eat. Pesticides may also poison the bats if they eat contaminated insects. Pesticides are a significant threat to the Indiana bat because they can hurt the bat and they reduce the bats food supply.
There are several steps that are being taken to protect the Indiana bat. One of the first step that was taken to protect the bat was listing the bat as an endangered species. The US wildlife service also developed a recovery plan for the bat in the eighties. This plan is currently being revised, but it includes goals and actions that are being taken to restore the bat population. The U.S. Forest Service is also taking steps to protect the habitat of the Indiana bat. These steps include protecting certain forests. Finally, there are steps being taken to educate the public about what needs to be done to protect the Indiana bat.
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