Urednik Uncategorized

They fly with their hands, and see with their ears!

Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight. Their front limbs have evolved into wings. They can be found on all continents except Antarctica and some oceanic islands. Around 1,100 different species of bats have been documented in the world. Of which 34 can be found in Croatia, and 22 have been identified so far in the Plitvice Lakes National Park. All bat species in Croatia are protected!

All European bat species, 45 of them, feed on insects and are as such extremely helpful. One bat can eat around 1,000 insects in one night, which is why they are known as the best pesticides because they hunt at night, when the insect species most harmful to agriculture are active. Guano (bat droppings) is considered one of the best fertilisers.

Nyctalus noctula (Photo: Karolina Kipson)

They hunt at night. For them, the daytime is fraught with danger as the sun dries their wings and birds attack them. They use a unique system of orientation – echolocation that allows them to orientate based on echoes coming from call reflections in objects, which bats pick up using their ears. This system is so well developed that at night bats can even “see” mosquitoes in flight. Echolocation allows them to hunt and navigate space.

During daytime and winter, they stay in shelters (caves, pit caves, roofs on houses, tree hollows), usually hanging upside down or in an inaccessible place. Shelters serve to protect them from the weather and predators.

Bats under a roof (PLNP Archive)

During summer, female bats give birth in their shelters usually to a single young. Several hundred or thousand bats can form such a community, known as a maternity colony. At night, when the mother go hunting, they place their young in “kindergartens”, a place in the colony where many small bats hang in a pile, waiting for their mothers and kept safe by several adult female bats who don’t leave to hunt that night.

Rhinolophus euryale, Miniopterus schreibersii (Photo: Marina Kipson)

Despite the size of their bodies, bats are the longest-lived mammals. The oldest bat documented was 41 years old. Our bat species weigh between 5 and 45 g.

The main reasons why they are endangered are: loss of habitat for hunting, loss of winter and daytime shelters, as well as maternity colony shelters, treating of timber with toxic protective chemicals, pesticides, small numbers of insects, exploiting caves for tourism purposes, disturbing maternity and hibernating colonies, wind farms, drying up of water bodies and water pollution.

Bats are not dangerous animals, and they won’t attack humans. Due to their well-developed echolocation system, they are great at detecting even the smallest objects in their surroundings so they will never get tangled in your hair. If a bat flies into a room, the best you can do is open the windows, turn off the lights and leave it by itself for some time so that it can fly out without any disturbance.

Read other interesting stories from the Plitvice Lakes National Park