Bats in New Jersey
Bats in New Jersey!
Bats are fascinating, and often misunderstood mammals. Though many of our ancestors regarded bats as givers of health and prosperity, the image that seemed to have stuck to these creatures is one of death and disease.
While it is true, bats have been known to carry rabies; bats are not aggressive and very intelligent. Further, there are very few reports of rabies in the United States annually and of those, only a portion can be related to bats.
Bats are divided into two groups; fruit or nectar feeders or carnivores. A carnivorous bat will feed on mice, fish, and small animals. However, 70% of all carnivorous bats feed on insects. This makes the bat a critical part of our natural order. Bats assist farmers by eating bugs that could destroy our food supply.
Bats live in dark places such as caves and attics and sleep during the day. In the evening they come out to feed. When a bat takes up residence in a home or office where he is in direct contact with humans, it invokes the fear of bats that has long been associated with them
A bat has very small teeth. If a sleeping child or mentally challenged person is bitten, they may not even know until they begin showing signs of rabies. By then it is too late and rabies is almost always fatal!
Bats that call New Jersey Home
There are six species of bats that live in the New Jersey area year-round. However, there are only 2 species that have regular contact with humans. They are the Eptesicus Fuscus and the Myotis Lucifusus. That translates into “Big Brown Bats” and “Little Brown Bats” Unfortunately, many of the little brown bats have fallen to White Nose Syndrome in recent years, which has reduced their population significantly. The other four New Jersey bats are:
Eastern Small Footed Bat
Northern Long Eared Bat
There are three more species of bats that live in New Jersey just part of the year. They are:
Eastern Red Bat
Silvered Hair Bat
How Bats Help Us
Bats are the only natural predator of the nocturnal insects. Every night the bats of New Jersey eat massive quantities of insects. This protects a significant amount of the local crops. Bats also reduce the need for chemical pest control.
A single colony of Big Brown bats (which number about 150) will consume an estimated one million insects annually. The Hoary bat has a diet that consists of 43% consumption of stink bugs. This insect is a major force in the destruction of tomatoes, soybeans, peas and corn. Consequently the Hoary bat is a farmer’s friend and a contributor to society.
Bat droppings are called guano. Guano is high in nitrogen and phosphorous; we are able to harvest it and turn it into fertilizers. It is also used in some cosmetics.
Studies are being conducted presently to determine if an anticoagulant compound which is found in bat saliva, can be used to assist stroke victims.
Even the military watch the bats and are studying their echolocation with the hopes of being able to utilize it into our modern day weapons.
The dangers in a home or builing
The majority of bats are healthy. However you may see one that seems too easy to get close to. Perhaps he moves just a bit too slow. This is a sign that the bat could be sick. Bats can carry rabies. Rabies is a fatal disease. It is terrifying and painful. Rabies causes acute inflammation of the brain. Rabies is transmitted from rabid animals to humans through biting. There is a vaccine to prevent rabies if administered before symptoms appear. The vaccine is administered through a series of injections through the stomach. It is painful but it will save the victims life. On the other hand, if the victim is not treated quickly enough, rabies cannot be stopped and cannot be cured and is 99% fatal.
For that reason, the vaccine will be administered any time there is any chance that a person has been bitten. There can be no waiting to see if they are ill. If you can see it, it is too late. The only way to avoid the vaccine is to present the animal in question for testing.
To complicate this even more, a person may not even know they have been bitten. A bat has very small teeth. A bat could land on a sleeping person and bite them and not wake them. People have been bitten trying to remove a bat from their home. The bite site may have a little redness, and an itch. This is followed by fever. If you ever find your infant, child, grandparent or disabled family member in the house with a bat, take them to the emergency room. Call animal control to come and remove the bat and to have it tested. Contact the CDC (Center for Disease Control) for further instructions. But first and foremost seek medical attention – even if you are unsure of a bite.
Another danger is the bat droppings. Bats colonize together in large groups. The waste from the bats falls to the ground or floor under them. If you are unaware that the bats are above you, you could slip and fall. Though it is very rare, there have been reports of people who caught rabies without ever seeing or touching a bat and it is believed they contracted it from the droppings.