As of today, authorities went ahead and started a bat watching contest in Connecticut, in order to familiarize the public with the bat population.
Halloween has always been a tradition among both children and adults from all around the United States. Everybody takes great pride in making the scariest outfit they can think of, hang ghoulish decorations around the house and tell horror stories around a cozy campfire or tucked away in blankets near the fireplace. The most associated figure with Halloween can only be the vampire bat.
Maybe this is not your typical Halloween contest, with a jury and prizes, but it still bears significance. Wildlife Officials from the state of Connecticut, in an attempt to educate more people about wildlife, urged the general population to be on a lookout for bats that display unusual behavior.
Recently, Connecticut’s bat population has been affected by a mysterious disease that has taken its toll upon the winged mammals. The strange malady known as white nose syndrome has already killer several million bats and, as days go by, more of them are manifesting similar symptoms.
White nose syndrome is caused by a fungus named Pesydigymnoascus destructans, which resides on the mammal’s skin. Bats that have been affected by this disease manifest symptoms such as long variance in waking up or going into hibernation, flying in broad daylight, unusual loss of body fat. Other signs may include the presence of scar like wounds of their wing membranes. Wildlife researchers tend to agree that one of the reason that leads to the bat’s premature death is the rapid consumption of body fat. If the bat doesn’t store enough body fat, it will not survive during the cold months of winter.
Among the infected bat population we have the little brown, the northern long-eared, tri-colored, big brown and two other species of bat. Wildlife experts say that infected bats tend to display a fungal growth on their nose, hence the name of the disease. They also reported that not all diseased bats carry this distinctive mark.
Representatives from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the ones who started the bat watching contest in Connecticut, urge wildlife lovers to report if they see bats flying around during the day or clinging to buildings during fall or winter.
This is a great opportunity for the authorities to shatter some prejudices regarding the bat. For example, people think that the bat is a rodent, but research shows that they are much closer to primates than to rodents. Bats use echolocation to hunt their prey and maneuver in the dark. Also, they are not dirty, nor do they carry parasites. And most of all, vampire bats don’t live in North America. They can only be found in caves around Latin America.
Image source: www.wikimedia.org