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Importance of bat conservation

Peter_Estok-Nyctalus_noctula.jpgAbout bats

Bats migrate. Some not just to the next field, forest or barn, but thousands of miles away. Some migratory European bats have been recorded traveling from Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and even Finland to Northern Spain or Italy, with a maximum flight distance of more than 2500 km.

Bats are the only mammals that can fly. They find their way around by combining their acute sight with echolocation. Bats emit calls and listen to the echoes of those calls that return from objects in their vicinity. They use these echoes to find and hunt their prey and to navigate and avoid collisions. All bats can also see – they are not blind.

Bats eat flies, moths and other insects and thereby control insect populations very effectively. Some bats also serve as pollinators and seed dispersers  many plants that are important to humans.

Bat populations are one of the best natural indicators of the health of our environment. This is because bats flourish where an ecosystem is healthy and stable. 

To scotch some myths...

In Europe there are no vampire bats and only one fruit-eating bat (the Egyptian fruit bat that belongs to the sub-order Megachiroptera). In fact, only 3 among almost 1500 bat species worldwide are vampire bats.

Less than 1% of bats have rabies so the likelihood of contracting rabies from a bat is extremely low. Bats do not attack humans and would only bite a person to defend themselves. Nevertheless, if handling a bat one should always wear protective gloves. 

Premysl_Tajek-Myotis_myotis.jpgThreats to Bats’ Survival

Many European bats are under threat and some have even become extinct in certain countries. The reasons for this are mainly:

- loss of roosts- loss of feeding areas- increased use of pesticides in agriculture that that kill the insects that the bats depend on for food- increased use of pesticides in building materials, that poison the bats that roost in treated buildings- prejudices against bats and misunderstandings arising from an ignorance of bats.

You can read more interesting facts about bats and the Agreement in the new EUROBATS leaflet, which is available online and in a printed version. To get a printed copy, please contact the Secretariat via e-mail eurobats(at)eurobats.org

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