Bat Culvert Survey

Hi! My name is Emily Farrell, and I am a
wildlife technician with Georgia DNR in the Wildlife Conservation Section. I am
going to take you guys today to a culvert, and we are going to see if we can
find any bats on a survey today. I have some rain boots so that my feet don’t
get wet out here in this creek. I have light so I can see. I have on a
reflective vest, and then I have on a headlamp, so that as I move around, I have
a good source of light. Culverts are these large structures underneath roadways, typically interstates, and they allow water to pass underneath the road, and we have
found that bats like to live in these culverts when it gets cold outside. We have 16 species of bats in Georgia. We typically see tricolored bats and
southeastern myotis in our culverts. Tricolored bats are a species of
concern in Georgia. They are currently petitioned for listing under the
Endangered Species Act, so if we find any tricolored bats, that’s very exciting
for us, so we want to look for these species in particular, and we just want
to see how these structures are used during the winter and what the bats are
selecting for. We’ll come back to that one. We had to be quiet in the culverts to avoid disturbing the bats. So we just found our first bat in this
culvert. I’ll show him to you. This is a big brown bat. They are found statewide. They’re pretty common. They’re one of our larger species of bat. To many people
they look pretty small, but he’s actually a pretty big bat. He has this long glossy fur, and some pretty sharp teeth. They like to eat beetles. I am gonna let him go and
you’re gonna go back in the culvert and grab that tricolor bat, because that is
the bat we are targeting today. There he goes! Alright, this is the tricolored bat that we came to find. He is very tiny. He is a little awake, so we’re going to try and be quick. I’m gonna go pick him up so
we can collect some more data on him. So we have our tri-colored bat. We’re going to put him in a bag and take him outside and work him up. It’s safer to carry, and it’s dark like he likes, so we’re gonna stick him in there, and let him hang out for a
moment. So we have our tricolored bat, and now
we are going to collect some extra data on him. We have a data sheet where
we can record all of the information we are collecting. Swabs to swab him for
White-nose Syndrome, and vials for my swabs to go into. A ruler so I can
measure the length of his forearm. A scale so that I can get his weight, and I
have some bands so we can identify this bat if we ever capture him again. This
bat was roosting on the side of a wall, so I’m gonna indicate that on my data
sheet. We’re gonna put today’s date and which bat I’m sampling. I’m gonna put
the species: tricolored bats. And I took a swab from him, so I’ll make sure I
write that down too. We were swabbing the bats because we are looking for
PD, which is the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome. White-nose syndrome is a very big problem for bats in North Georgia.
Tricolor bats in particular have been hit very hard by this disease, and
we’ve lost a lot of them from this fungus, and we want to make sure that
tricolored bats across the state are hopefully not carrying the fungus with
them. He had no signs of white-nose syndrome, so we’ll mark that as well. I’m gonna start with
getting his weight. The way that we weigh our bat is we put them in a bag, and we
weigh the bat and the bag together, and then we take the bat out and weigh
the bag, and the difference is how much our bat weighs. Alright so this is our
tricolor bat. You can see he is much, much smaller than the big brown bat that we
just had. These guys are called tricolored bat because each individual
piece of fur has three different colors on it, so they’re tri-colored. They are
known for having these pink-colored forearms. This is his forearm right there. And they have these really dark wings, so you can
see his wing is almost black compared to those bright pink forearms, so that’s one
way you can identify this species. You can see his face right here with his
cute little ears. These right here, that is a thumb. He has another thumb over
here just like people have. You can see he has a little bitty tail, and on his
wings, he has a wrist here, and then these are just long finger bones. So I’m going
to collect his forearm length. He is 32. We already got his weight. We need to get
his age. So at this time of year, it’s hard to tell, but you normally look at their wing.
All we can tell is adult versus juvenile. I cannot tell how old an adult bat is.
But we look here in their wing, and we look at the joints in their wing. And if
the joints are closed, then it’s an adult. If the joint is open, it’s juvenile. So
this guy has his joints closed, so I’m going to call him an adult, but because
it is now October, he really could have been born this past May, and he may
already be full-grown as an adult, so it’s really hard to say.
We are going to put a band on this tricolored bat so if we recapture him
at another date, we can identify him. This is a unique number that is specific to
this bat, and then if we capture him again next summer, two summers from now, maybe in winter, maybe we find him in a cave, we can go back and say, “Oh, we found that bat before. Here’s what that bat looked like then. Here’s what he looks like now.
Here’s where he went to, and where he’s going from.” So you can get information on how
that bat is moving. So we have our band now on our bat. You can see it’s just
like a tiny little ring right here on his arm, and we want to make sure it can
move. It’s not going to get stuck in one space, and it’s tight enough that it
won’t come off. So now we are done processing him, and we are free to let
him go. Alright, so we are back to where we found our bat, and we are gonna put
him back where he was! Oh! And he took off! Why do you love bats? I love bats because I think a lot of people have misconceptions on them from things they
see online, maybe information they see in movies, and a lot of it is not true, and I
want people to realize that bats are not nearly as scary as they think. They
don’t want to bother you, they’re not trying to attack you, they’re not going
to come suck your blood. They’re actually a service to us in
providing pest control. Are there any fun facts or myths that you’d like to bust regarding bats? Sure! So one of the most common myths that I hear about bats is that bats are blind. That is not true. Bats can see pretty well, actually. Now,
bats do use echolocation to get around at night, but our bats are able to see. Another one is that we have bats in Georgia that will come suck your blood. That is also not true. All of our bats in Georgia eat insects and only insects, so
they’re gonna go eat the mosquitoes around your house, and they want nothing
to do with you. So people shouldn’t really be worried about getting bit by bats? No people should not be worried. Now, if you do come across a bat, please do
not pick it up with your bare hands. Please leave it where it is, or if you
need to move it, make sure you’re using thick gloves, maybe a towel, to do that. Otherwise, bats are not going to come and bite you. A lot of people get really
nervous that they’re near bats that the bats are gonna come attack them, and that is not what the bats want to do. They usually want to just get away from you. But what can people do at home to help not only bats but biologists who study
bats as well? At home, you can put up a bat house. Keep in mind that you want a bat house that gets a lot of sun and is preferably 15
to 20 feet off the ground. So that’s one big way they can help bats. Can they buy
those online? You can buy those online, just search online bat houses. We really recommend bat houses that are approved by Bat Conservation
International, and typically they have an opening that’s only 3/4 of an inch, so
they’re very small openings for those bat houses. You can also plant a native
garden, so that will help bats to bring in some of those insects they like to
feed on, but it will help a lot of other Georgia wildlife species, especially
pollinators. You can provide fresh water for bats, so if you have a birdbath or
anything like that, that can be for bats, and it can be for other wildlife like
birds. You can also make sure if you have cats that you keep them indoors, because
they are a very big predator for birds and for bats and many other wildlife
species. You can also provide education to your
friends and family and tell them all these wonderful things that you learned
today about bats, why we should help bats, and what we can do to help them and that
maybe they’re not so scary after all.

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