connectVideoSouth Florida’s growing population is hurting Florida’s bonneted bats
MIAMI — South Florida’s growing population is placing a strain on some of the area’s first inhabitants — the bonneted bats.
Called one of the world’s most rare bats, the animal is a nationally endangered species that is unique to Florida. In the night, he feeds with insects. During the day, it sleeps under a barrel-vaulted roof tiles, in live and dead palm trees and pine trees cavities. They are about the size of an iPhone, and have been known to fly high and fast.
But Florida’s changing landscape, the bonneted bat population in danger. As a new development bulldozed pineland they called home, the number of bonneted bats has decreased.
“They need help because they are creatures of nature and they have much less habitat with each year that goes by because they keep on cutting down trees left and right,” said Bruce Chesney, founder of the Patch of Heaven Sanctuary.
Bonneted bats are brown in color and the size of an iPhone in peace
The small bats were officially listed as a nationally endangered species in 2013.
“Now, the question is, what do we need to do to restore it?” said Dr. Frank Ridgley, head of conservation and research at Zoo Miami.
Biologists believe that they have the answer.
Executives of the Patch of Heaven Sanctuary, a non-profit organization dedicated to the creation of habitats for fauna, in February finished building what they claim is the largest bat house in the world in an effort to save Florida’s high-flyers.
“No one else is doing this kind of work. Not on this scale,” said Frederick Hubbard, in the sanctuary of the executive director.
The two-tier structure can house up to 250,000 bats. Hubbard says the bats tend to form colonies that live together and reproduce.
The new two-tier bat house can hold up to 250,000 total bats
(Elina Shirazi/Fox News)
“There is usually a dominant man, a great man, and claims this coveted types of spaces, and he’s trying to attract the females and the females tend to be attracted to a man who comes to the defence of the territory and hold a safe space for them,” Ridgley said.
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Ridgley says the bats are of vital importance for biodiversity, and in fact useful for the man.
“They are cleaning the sky. They offer all these services and … in some parts of the country, you know, bats literally deliver billions of dollars of services to the residents,” Ridgley said.
Ridgley said that it is difficult to know the history of the bats, because they were only discovered as a unique species in 2004.
“There is very little known about this bat about a decade ago. I mean, they only knew of a place where they were roosting and it was a mystery about their entire range here in South Florida. Everything about them, you know, what kind of groups they had, what they need to survive. So there was a lot of intensive research to go in answering some of these questions,” said Ridgley.
Ridgley estimates, their number is now only in the hundreds, and the technology helps to keep up with them. One device they use, there is an echo meter, plugs into a mobile phone and identifies the type of the bat and the location on the basis of sound.
“They have a kind of echolocation and supposedly they have a number of recorded sounds, that they are able to be in the bat house that will attract them,” says Hubbard.
The makers claim that this bat house on the Patch of Heaven sanctuary is the largest in the world
Hubbard said that if their project achieves its purpose, it can help in rewriting the fate of these bats, which have lost almost all their habitat. For now, he said, they are patiently waiting for the bats to rent out their space.
“Come home,” Hubbard said. “Well, how do you tell a bat to come home, but I think that if you could, that is what we are doing.”