Bat presentation at Genoa park Friday
About 17 species of bats fly through Northern Nevada’s skies, and the small, furry creatures receive a stigma they don’t deserve. They don’t entangle themselves in human hair, and they don’t transmit diseases to other animals, said Dr. George Baumgardner, curator of natural history at the Nevada State Museum.
He will present a free slide show, “Bats in the Night Sky,” from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Mormon Station State Historic Park in Genoa.
“People have a better chance of getting struck by lightning at a church picnic than getting rabies from a bat,” he said. “They’d be more likely to pick it up from a cat, dog or raccoon.”
Northern Nevadan bats eat insects and live just about anywhere they can find water, food and a small niche to roost in, Baumgardner said.
Most of Nevada’s bats live far from civilization, but they’ve also adapted to city life. He pointed to a stone wall across the street from the Carson City museum.
“Most people don’t even know they’re there,” he said.
The McCarran Street bridge in Sparks harbors one of the most well-known populations. Between 80,000 and 100,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats live on the bridge, primarily in the expansion cracks between the girders. The population rids the skies of 75 metric tons of insects every summer, Baumgardner said.
Bats spend their days tucked into caves, mines, holes in trees and cracks in cliffs or under rocks. They emerge at dusk to feed, but first take a drink and often stop to rest during these periods at temporary night roosts.
The animals breed in the fall and give birth in the spring, usually to just one pup, he said.
Hawks, owls, kestrels and snakes are bats’ natural enemies, but their primary enemy is humans. Worldwide, the bat population is declining, due primarily to loss of habit, Baumgardner said.
For information, he recommends the Bat Conservation Web site, http://www.batcon.org.
IF YOU GO
What: Bats in the Night Sky, a free slide show presented by Dr. George Baumgardner of the Nevada State Museum
When: 8:30 -9:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Mormon Station State Historic Park in Genoa