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Weekly “What is it?”: Juvenile Bats

They named him “Lestat.” But unlike his bloodsucking namesake, the little Seminole bat clinging to the bricks of a campus building was purely interested in mama’s milk.  Later on, he will develop a taste for insects, as his mother teaches him to fly and capture bugs on his own.

This young Seminole bat, nicknamed "Lestat", was left on the bricks of a UWF campus building as his mother searched for food. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson

This young Seminole bat, nicknamed “Lestat”, was left on the bricks of a UWF campus building as his mother searched for food. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson

I was introduced to the young bat a few weeks ago by the big-hearted staff of the UWF Health Services Center, who noticed him hanging on the brick wall of their building.  He was only about six feet up, exposed to the rain and contrary to his nocturnal nature, moving around quite a lot during the day.  The staff were concerned for the young bat’s well-being. Our best guess is that his mother selected a poor location because she was stressed, inexperienced (and probably exhausted, if bat motherhood is anything like that of a human).  I advised them to keep watch but leave him be.  A few days later, both bats were gone and we can only hope the mother successfully moved Lestat to a safer hideout.

An adult female Seminole bat rests on a brick wall in Pensacola. Photo credit: Maria Agustin

An adult female Seminole bat rests on a brick wall in Pensacola. Photo credit: Maria Agustin

Summer is maternity season for female bats, who typically give birth to a single pup (although sometimes more) in May or June.  It takes about three weeks for juvenile bats to learn to fly, and during that time they either cling to their mother or stay behind in the roost as she feeds at night.  For that reason, during the period between April 16-August 14, it is illegal to “exclude” or prevent bats from returning to their roost—even if it’s your attic.  This obviously has the potential to cause conflict between homeowners and the bat population. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission has regulatory oversight for bat-related issues, and they will work with citizens to arrange a positive outcome for both the property owner and the animals involved.

Bats play an important role the ecosystem as efficient controllers of insect populations. However, their populations are in decline due to habitat loss and a devastating disease called white-nose syndrome.  To learn more about bats and how to help them, visit this website or contact me or your local County Extension office!

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Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/ffl/2013/07/24/weekly-what-is-it-juvenile-bats/