The Indiana Brown Bat

The Things You’ll See Camping at
O’Bannon Woods State Park, IN
The Indiana
What is the Indiana Bat?
• Small, winged mammal, roughly 2 inches in length
and weighing approximately .2 -.3 ounce.
• The Indiana Bat is uniformly dark grey to grayishbrown in color and often has a pinkish colored nose.
• Live birth after a 50-60 day gestational period.
• Considered an adult at 1 year of age.
• Live on average 13-15 years, but have been recorded
at over 20 years of age.
• Nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and are
awake at night.
Where does it live?
• Mostly in the Eastern United States
– Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa, Missouri,
Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North
and South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia,
Maryland, Pennsylvania,
New York, Rhode Island,
Massachusetts, Connecticut,
Vermont, New Hampshire, and
– Most, however are found in or near Indiana.
Where the Indiana bat roosts depends
on the season
• From Fall through Spring the bats hibernate
mostly in caves or abandoned mines.
– Over 50% migrate to Indiana caves where the
temperature is just right for hibernation.
– They hibernate in colonies to maintain warmth.
– Wyandotte Cave is a bat hibernaculum in O’Bannon Woods
State Park.
• From Spring through Fall bats leave their winter
homes, sometimes migrating further north, and roost
in trees, old farm houses, and barns
– O’Bannon Woods has them nesting in their
campgrounds every year!
– Males and females split up during this time, with males
living in “bachelor colonies” and females raising their
– You can sometimes find the single males living in caves
during the summer months, but it is less common.
The Indiana Bat at O’Bannon Woods
• You can often find bats of all kinds, including
the more rare Indiana Bat at O’Bannon
Woods. The protected forests there and
Wyandotte Caves provide the perfect spot to
make a home.
• Wyandotte Cave is the
3rd largest bat
hibernaculum in the world!
-To protect the bats, it is
currently closed.
Myth Busters: Proving Why We
Shouldn’t Be Afraid of the Flying
Creatures of the Night.
Bats Carry Rabies
• Actually, less than 0.5% of all bats in the world
have Rabies.
– You are more likely to encounter a domestic pet with
rabies than a bat.
– Bats that are rabid are not aggressive and tend to
avoid human contact.
• Bats are very clean and groom themselves just
like cats.
• However, like all wild animals, you should never
touch or hold a bat because it may bite to defend
Bats are Vampires and Want to Suck
Your Blood
• Vampires do not exist and therefore, bats can not
be vampires.
• Bats do not eat blood, they eat insects and
sometimes fruit.
– The ONLY bat that eats blood are vampire bats but
they do not eat human blood and don’t live in the
United States.
• Bats get their bad rep from folklore and stories
like Dracula.
• While it is true that bats fly around at night most
bats eat insects and fruit.
Bats Will Get In Your Hair
• Bats can navigate in absolute darkness as well
as during the day, maybe even better. What
possible reason would a bat have to tangle
itself (endangering itself in the process) in
someone's hair?
• Bats may fly very close to you chasing after
bugs, but their echolocation allows them to
see better and recognize objects quicker than
Bats are Blind
• They can actually see better
than humans at night, however
echolocation is their most
important sense when hunting.
• Most bats do have bad eyesight,
but they are definitely not blind.
• They are similar to dolphins who
use echolocation to hunt,
especially in the murky depths.
Just as the dolphin is not blind,
neither is the bat.
Bats are Flying Rats
• Bats are not in the family rodentia meaning
they are not a rodent, nor are they related to
• Bats are actually closer to primates (humans)
than they are rats.
Why We Love Our Batty Friends…
• Bats are very, very helpful! They…
Help control the insect population.
Reseed cut forests.
Pollinate plants that provide food for humans.
Taught us about sonar.
Bacteria in their guano (bat poop) is useful in improving soaps,
making gasohol producing antibiotics, and is used as a fertilizer
besides being a fertilizer.
– Oh and guess what? Many eye cosmetics such as eyeliner and
mascara have guano in them!
• Bats can eat up to 3000 insects a night!
– Their favorite meal is mosquitoes.
– Mosquitoes carry a much bigger threat of disease such as Malaria,
West Nile Virus, and Yellow Fever than the very slight possibility of a
bat carrying rabies.
Oh NO! The Indiana Bat is in Trouble!
• The Indiana Bat is Endangered, both in the state and
– In the past 25 years, the population of Indiana bats has declined
by about 50 percent.
• Reasons for their decline include:
– Natural hazards during hibernation, such as cave flooding.
– Disturbance by humans during hibernation through people
touring caves (especially those listed as a hibernaculum) in the
winter or vandalism of caves and the bats.
• Vandals have knocked down and killed large clusters of bats just for
– Some people even shoot bats for entertainment, which is illegal.
– Increased use of pesticides is passed from the insects (their
food) to them, which is poisonous.
– Clearing of forests causing a decline in their summer habitat.
– White Nose Syndrome, a disease in bats that, like a plague, is
decimating their populations.
White Nose Syndrome (WNS)
• An infectious white fungus that is only susceptible to bats.
– It’s estimated to have killed over a million hibernating bat species
in more than 15 states and two Canadian provinces so far.
– Within an infected colony, there is an over 90% mortality rate.
– The big brown bat, tri-colored bat, eastern small-footed bat, and
Indiana bat have especially been affected due to their hibernation
• The fungus grows on their bodies (especially their nose and
wings) and thrives in cool temperatures.
– Scientists are still not exactly sure how it all works or how to fight
– They believe the fungus is causing the bats to wake from their
hibernation three times more than usual. They therefore are
using up all of their reserved food and energy and dying of
starvation before the winter is over
Colony of Bats Suffering from White
Nose Syndrome
Transmission of White Nose
• Proven transmission of the fungus occurs from bat to
bat interaction.
– No conclusive proof exists that humans have transferred
the fungus to the bat population.
• However, it is feared that recreational cavers may be carrying the
fungus on their boots or clothing if not thoroughly sanitized
between cave explorations. This is especially a concern during the
winter months when bats are hibernating and in the caves listed as
• To help resist the spread of the fungus, Indiana state caves have
been temporarily closed.
– It has been found in two Indiana caves so far: Wyandotte
Cave in O’Bannon Woods and Endless Cave in Washington
County, IN.
• Both of these caves have had no human access (gated and locked).
What We CAN Do To Help
• If you see a bat you suspect to have white nose, call DNR
– If you see a bat flying around during the day, especially in winter,
contact DNR as well. This is a sign of infection.
– Indiana DNR: call (317) 232-4200
• If you own a private cave that you know has a large bat population
during the winter, gate it and/or do not allow entry during the
months of Oct. through March.
• Be sure that all clothing and equipment is clean and
decontaminated between exploring different cave systems-even if
it’s a tourist cave.
• Report anyone vandalizing bat homes or actively trying to kill them
to DNR.
• Avoid use of pesticides in your gardens-they’re not good for you
• Lastly spread the word and help people realize that we shouldn’t be
afraid of bats but be glad that we have them!
If you go into a cave, be like a CAVER,
not a Spelunker.
• Cavers practice cave conservancy making sure not to
disturb the natural surroundings.
• Cavers are also always follow safe caving.
– Wearing helmets, multiple layers of clothing, and bootsnot tennis shoes.
– They always carry headlamps and additional lights,
batteries, food, water, and first aid equipment.
– They also always clean their equipment between caves to
help prevent the spread of WNS.
• Spelunkers are often unprepared, ill-dressed, and
damage or do not care about protecting the cave
Spelunker: NO
Caver: YES

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