Wildlife Ways
Vicky Carder

Bats in My Belfry

Posted Thursday, September 11, 2014, at 8:38 AM
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  • That guy in the picture has nice dental work. I wonder why they have such a mouthful of teeth if all they eat all day (night) is insects?

    We have caves so we see them frequently, even during mild warm-ups in winter. If the insects are out, they seem to be close behind. Not sure how they know it has warmed up but....

    Since you brought it up, a quick question about rabies. I have had to dispatch a raccoon and a skunk with obvious rabies symptoms but we had an opossum die in our garage for no obvious reasons.

    Could it have been rabies but not exhibit frothing or erratic behavior? It did not look like anything was wrong, just dead.

    It did lose control of its bladder apparently but that is understandable. Strangely enough (and I am not complaining) after that one died, we have not had opossums in our garage for more than a month.

    We used to have two who were pretty brazen about eating the cat food, even while we were still putting it out, but now, GONE! It was not either of them that died. They were smaller.

    Just wondering. :-)

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Sep 11, 2014, at 9:32 AM
  • Nobody knows why - but opossums have shown some immunity to the rabies virus. That does not mean they can't catch it, but rabies is not considered to be an issue in an opossum death. The most common causes of Virginia Opossum deaths are predation and old age. A normal life span for an oppossum in the wild is less than one year.

    Did you know that raccoons are very susceptible to canine distemper? Skunks are also prone to catching other neurological diseases that can mimic rabies symptoms. Nevertheless, always err on the side of caution. Most neurological diseases are painful and fatal, so it was best that you were able to to keep them from suffering any longer.

    BTW, rabies has a range of symptoms and an animal can look pretty normal and still have or carry the disease.

    The lingering "death or disease" odors may make your garage unattractive for a while.

    -- Posted by wildwoman on Thu, Sep 11, 2014, at 4:34 PM
  • Lingering odors, hmmmmm I wonder if they bottle that stuff like fox urine?

    I won't dispatch them unless I know they are sick but I don't miss the extra food bill from them helping themselves to the cat's food.

    Maybe this one was old and it knew I would "take care" of it. Boy, that is all I need.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Sep 11, 2014, at 4:59 PM
  • Opossums are like people - opportunistic!

    -- Posted by wildwoman on Fri, Sep 12, 2014, at 7:21 AM
  • Getting back to bats, is there a temperature that they usually stop feeding or the presence or lack of insects?

    We have tried bat boxes but since the caves are so close, I guess they see no reason to reside in a hotel when they can have the mansion.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Sep 12, 2014, at 11:14 AM
  • Oh yes, and to get back to those teeth, do they eat something else that they need those pearly white, fighting among themselves or something else?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Sep 12, 2014, at 11:16 AM
  • I have never known anyone who has success with bat boxes. I guess retailers find it is a good money-making venture.

    Bats will go into hibernation when the temperature drops which is about the same time as when the insects go away - usually late September or October.

    In addition to mosquitoes, bats like moths, crickets, grasshoppers, etc. Sometimes this makes for tough chewing. Usually they scoop these bugs with a wing membrane and then chomp on them.

    Also, those teeth are a defense against predators such as raccoons, owls and foxes.

    Is it a face only a mother (and some weird people) could love?

    -- Posted by wildwoman on Sat, Sep 13, 2014, at 8:47 AM
  • As quickly as these guys move, it makes me wonder how any predator can catch them. Do they take coffee breaks outside the cave?

    Occasionally I see one on the ground or maybe on a wall, but I presume they are sick or hurt. Any idea how they get into a predicament where a predator can catch them?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Sep 16, 2014, at 7:05 AM
  • Unfortunately, most of the time they are caught because they are sick or wounded. Sometimes a healthy juvenile will "lose its way".

    A lot of times a bat may be sick from something other than rabies, but the only way to test for rabies is by examing the brain. This test is not conducive for life!

    -- Posted by wildwoman on Thu, Sep 18, 2014, at 2:13 PM
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