The NYTimes reports that bat biologists are exploring some very cool discoveries as they rush to save many species from extinction:
… New research suggests that white-nose syndrome begins disrupting the arousal-torpor cycle long before any telltale white fuzz appears on the bat’s face and wings, and that the disorder really spins out of control when the bat’s immune system behaves in a distinctly unbatlike manner, mounting a zealous response against the fungal spores.
Unbatlike because, as scientists are discovering, the bat immune system is astonishingly tolerant of most pathogens — a trait that could pose risks to people, but that also offers clues to preventing human diseases of aging, including cancer…
Scientists have also learned that bats live a seriously long time for creatures of their small size. The insectivorous Brandt’s bat of Eurasia, for example, weighs an average of just six grams, compared with 20 grams for a mouse. But while a mouse is lucky to live for a year, the Brandt’s bat can survive well into its 40s — a disparity between life span and body mass that a report in Nature Communications called “the most extreme” of all mammals…
Bat experts argue that a keener understanding of bat biology could not only help prevent the next outbreak of Ebola or other cross-species “zoonotic” infection, but also offer a fresh take on immune and inflammatory disorders like diabetes or heart disease…
(Also, those of you with bat phobias won’t agree, but the photos that go with the article are gorgeous.)
This really is bat country.
As long as we have their DNA stored somewhere, what’s it matter if they go extinct?
I am a bat fancier. My back yard is full of them, and I love that they eat the freaking mosquitoes.
Karen in GA
SiubhanDuinne… Paging SiubhanDuinne…
@dp: So is mine and it’s nice to sit outside without pesky mosquitoes. My son did mention though, do you worry where they go in the day.
I love bats! They eat gnats.
Maybe their tolerant immune systems are why they can survive rabies and continue to pass it on?
(Safety note: Never touch a bat! Unless you’re a bat-ologist and know what you’re doing.). Appreciate them from a distance.
Batfans, the Cincinnati zoo has a display of nocturnal animals, including vampire and fruit bats.
Villago Delenda Est
Do bats have an autoimmune response to stupid?
Because way too many humans obviously do not.
I had a bat infestation in my eaves about 6 months ago. They made a helluva racket.
Also had snakes up in the attic. Exterminator found a dozen molted skins in one small area.
You only say that because you don’t realize one of those bats is Dick Cheney in Vampire-Travel mode.
@efgoldman: I hope that someone explains that. I only live six miles from my previous home and the previous residence didn’t have a lot of bats. On a spring eve, you can see dozens of bats overhead. Every once and awhile some dive bomb so that’s not good but it’s a magnificent site.
@Botsplainer: ugh.. Maybe my son was right.
Put up a bat-house.
Villago Delenda Est
Please, “The Dark Lord” or “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” or “You-Know-Who” only.
You’re not Dumbledore, you know.
@JGabriel: Where I live, I don’t have a bat house. The previous house, a neighbor had several and it didn’t seem to attract bats. So there must be something else. Behind me is a pond so I assume that attracts mosquitoes..
@dp: Same here. Bats are very cool, and not doing so well where I live:
They appear to love, just flat out love living in all the old coal mines in the area.
Love bats. Love sitting out on warm evenings as dusk falls, and watching them spin and whirl and dive.
There was a mention of bats in the latest report on the Ebola outbreak by the WHO. Deforestation has cut the barrier between bats and people, and the bats are reservoirs for the virus.
Any mention that the bats _may_ be recovering from the white-nose infestation in the article?
Villago Delenda Est
@catclub: Just another example of unintended consequences of reckless behavior.
@Karen in GA:
Here I am :-)
Over the last several years I have absolutely fallen in love with bats and regularly, if modestly, support a number of bat rescue organizations.
I used to be bat-phobic, but have completely swung around. I admire and cherish them for what they do (insect control, seed propagation, pollination) as well as for how Damned Cute they are. Just adorable.
@elmo: Me too! Especially when I know that every time a bat makes a sudden zip or zoom, that’s one less mosquito!
People think of “wildlife” as big exciting animals, but humdrum everyday critters are much more interesting than most folks realize. As much as I hate the little cabrones, I even like watching squirrels. (Gray squirrels are starting to breed around here, folks; spring is on the way!)
I totally love bats. Maybe because I’ve spent a considerable part of my adult life in Southeast Asia but they are wonderful creatures. I do hope scientists figure out a solution for this terrible disease.
I love the fact that Louisville, home of the Louisville Slugger, has an AAA team called the bats.
27 days until Red Sox truck day.
@SiubhanDuinne: To the Bat-rescue, Robin!
Clearly Adam West was ahead of his time.
Is MLB aware that bats can last 40+ years?
@mainmati: Me too. I don’t want to live in a batless world–we’d be hip deep in mosquitoes, and what would Elmo and I do on nice evenings?
Are bats good eatin’ in Southeast Asia, or am I thinking of someplace else? I know they may spread Ebola so in those areas I guess they’re off the menu.
Anecdotal to be sure, but at our summer place in the Berkshires in Western MA, we had bats as a common summer phenomenon for years, until about 6-7 years ago, when we noticed that they were getting scarce: only about the summer of ’13 did we start to see a few flapping around in the twilight, and last summer they seemed to be back in their normal numbers: so it’s definitely possible that some colonies have either adapted to the fungal disruptions, or developed a resistance to them. No particular phobia in play, but I really hate it when they (as they have done on two occasions, somehow get inside the house. We have a very high ceiling in the living room, and it must be the bat equivalent of an indoor gym.
@JGabriel: True, but it may take a long time for the bats to go there; sometimes several years. Needs to be in relatively quiet, secluded spot. Ours is on the side of a big tree in the far back of the yard.
@Jay C: One time when I was a kid my mom was brushing her teeth and a bat got in the bathroom. She ran out waving for help, going “Mmmmph! Mmmmmph!”–she was so scared she forgot to spit out the toothpaste. (My dad opened the bathroom window and closed the door, and when he checked a half hour later the bat had returned to the great outdoors, probably glad to get away from Mom.)
The agave plant depends on bats for pollination.
No bats, no tequila.
@Nicole: OK, then. Why did no one tell me before? This bat thing is a serious crisis. Obama will be on board because he is an enviro-commie who loves bats and obscure pond shrimp and such like more than people. Everyone who listens to Fox News knows that. The tequila angle will bring Boehner on board? I would think so.
There was a Ruben Bolling cartoon HUMAN MORALITY MADE SIMPLE, I think in the New Yorker in 1991, that was a table-based guide to human morality. “The more a living being is like you, the nicer you must be to it.”.
@jl: Even as we speak he’s working to pass emergency save-the-agave legislation.
One place the nest is inside folded down patio umbrellas. Apparently that is close enough to the way old Palm fronds hang down on Palm trees which is a natural nesting area. friends of my aunts had a year they couldn’t use their umbrella.
In I think the 80s the Univeristy of Florida football stadium had a bat problem. to be blunt, they smelled like guano. Killing them would have been bad publicity and was probably already illegal so they came up with a design for a huge bat house big enough for about 20000 bats. Cost thousands. they caught and moved the bats and screened off all the eves they used to roost in. Bats stayed about a week then flew away. Couldn’t get back in the stadium so they disappeared. People laughed but the stadium didn’t smell so I doubt the athletic association cared. Gator football is rich. About 5 years after, the bats showed up at the bat house and started moving in. a few, then thousands. People come see them from other states. Researchers come. I think there are web cams now. After about 15 years their were thousands more than th house was built for and one morning it collapsed. uaa built a new one and rebuilt the old one. Quickly. people expected them to. it’s the new normal.
@Pogonip: Fruitbats, which can be quite large, are eaten occasionally in the places I’ve lived, but are not a big part of any cuisine, in my experience.
My wife liked the pollinator picture.
@mainmati: I suspect there isn’t much meat on a bat. They’re all skin-and-bone wing.
I never understood the chicken-wing fad. There’s not enough meat on a chicken wing to be worth the trouble. As far as I am concerned chicken wings are only good for soup.
Nana nana nana nana nana nana nana nana
Bat cuisine! Seems in Asia Pacific Islands, the main health danger is that fruit bats eat some kind of seed that can build up toxins to dangerous levels.
‘Bat on the wing’ would make a nice song. Better than that thing I hear all the time.
One of the Australian wildlife rescue organizations has a nice advertising/PR campaign featuring a koala and a bat.
The koala says “No tree, no me.”
The bat says “No me, no tree.”
The Aussie bat rescue groups are wonderful and politically fearless in the face of a lot of heartless culling initiatives.
Per books like Outbreak, African fruit bats fall into the category of “bush meat” for people who are desperate for protein. And the latest Ebola outbreak has been traced back to a toddler who seems to have touched a dead bat, while many similar outbreaks in Africa, Asia & Australia have been traced to people eating/touching fruit contaminated by bat body fluids. There’s been a push in the areas of West & Central Africa where Ebola is the most serious problem to warn people against eating bats — earlier campaigns had some success discouraging people from killing gorillas & chimpanzees for meat, or from eating the bodies of primates found dead.
My mom loved bats, and I caught it from her. I love it when I’m riding my bike through the woods in the dark, and the bats dive bomb in front of me to catch the bugs in my lights. I’ve never hit one
So off topic, but I know somebody here can help. I’ve used iTunes since it first came out on my Mac and now my Windows machines (I did the reverse switch a few years ago). I have like 37 days of music. But I find I don’t listen to it much anymore cause of Pandora (I flat out love it) on my Roko and mobile devices.
But I’ve started to move to Google Play to buy a music. Mostly individual songs. For example I can’t stand Katie Perry’s music generally speaking, but I do like Fireworks. So I just buy that one song. Really doing that for the first time very often.
I have all Andrioid/Samsung devices (phone, Chromebook, tablet) and using Google’s third-party apps and the Chrome browser on my desktop, the programs I use to take notes, to do list, mindmapping, CRM, shopping lists (to name just a few) are running on all my devices and synced 24/7.
Long story short I am uploading a lot of my music from iTunes to Play Music. Stupid simple. But as I do this I can’t seem to turn off Google inserting other albums into the mix. I could deal with this if they all came AFTER my music, but that isn’t happening. They are getting mixed in with my music. This is pissing me the heck off.
I tried to create a playlist just to put my music in, but it has a default as a list, am I frankly prefer the look of the album covers and the ease of use of not having to scroll through hundreds or thousands of songs in a list format to find what I am looking for.
I assume I am missing some stupid simple radial button to click or setting to change, but I sure can’t find it.
Tree With Water
When I was 6 or 7, my neighbors unfortunately smacked a huge bat on the way home from vacation. Every kid in the neighborhood had a good look-see, but beyond that I don’t remember much. Except the grown-up freak out when some kid made mention of it in passing conversation. We were all grilled, “did you touch the bat”? I only wish I’d had the presence of mind to say, “sure, we all did, tasted it’s blood, too”.
Bat’s are very cool…
@elmo: Me too! I have several that live in old trees near the pond next to my property. Bats are wonderful. And they don’t want to come anywhere near us if they can help it. Peaceful coexistence, plus less skeeters!
I am bat-phobic, but I think it’s a special case because we have a lot of bats in this area. A LOT :)
I encounter them all the time. I once came upon one in a trash can at the courthouse. I also once had a babysitter spend an entire evening in the baby’s room (with the baby, so that was good) because a bat got in the house and she couldn’t come out. I sympathize.
I don’t like how you can’t hear them until they’re right up over your head. That silent swooping just gives me the creeps.
Weird. We just came home to a bat in our dining room. Half an hour later, animal control lady was scampering on top of our fridge to nick him into the little cage. Who says Baltimore city services aren’t up to scratch? Only feel sorry for the little brown bat. Was kind of cute.
Tree With Water
@Kay: One of the funniest Malcolm In The Middle episodes involved a crate full of bats that Hal opened inside the house. “Who wants the baked potato”?
We once had a bat flying around our four-story Federal-era townhouse. It didn’t want to leave by the windows we opened, and we couldn’t run up and down all those stairs fast enough in chasing it to broom or mop it toward a window. So we left the bat in charge of the house and went out.
When we returned, we found half a batwing on the first floor, next to the newel post where Sasha the cat sat, seemingly smiling.
I got my son the Batman TV show for Xmas. Adam West, Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Burgess Meredith, and Julie Newmar have a new fan! May they make Batviewers laugh for centuries to come.
@Tree With Water:
I called a bat removal company last year because I was convinced they were nesting in the house. Nope. They just like to fly in and out.
Maybe it’s the house. My eldest son once found a barn owl in the basement. He woke me up at 2 AM to tell me “there’s an owl in the house”. I thought I was dreaming, but no, it was down there -a full grown barn owl, diving and gliding. He netted it with a bedsheet and took it outside.
Bat houses are supposed to be good to attract them, but I put one up that stayed empty. They apparently spend their time in all of the trees of my (rather old) neighborhood.
One of my favorite things during the summer is to float on my back in our pool at dusk and watch the bats come out. They are amazing.
@efgoldman: put up bat houses!
Check here for details: http://www.batconservation.org/
I actually hit one once while riding, its wing just brushed my cheek, felt like velvet. I shrieked like a little girl. Once was rowing on a lake at dusk, and about 100 bats came out of nowhere, skimming low flying insects all around us. One even smacked into one of my oars. It was very cool, and kind of creepy.
I think bats are cool, but they can carry rabies, if you see one acting weird stay away from it.
We need to save bats, since they not only eat annoying insects, they are also fabulous dancers.