Bats are way cool

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Bats get a lot of exposure this time of year, what with Halloween decorations and vampire lure. Despite their bad rep as bloodsuckers (most bats eat bugs and vampire bats only live in Central and South America) they are some of the most amazing mammals. And they play critically important roles in various ecosystems around the country.

Bats live in nearly every national park but they are seldom seen (among other home bases, they chill out during the day in some 4,000 caves in 85 national park units). So integral are they that the National Park Service has projects underway in more than 40 parks to protect and preserve bats and their habitats.

Other cool facts about these adept creatures of the night:

1.) They eat hordes of insects (up to hundreds of thousands an hour!) including mosquitoes.

2.) They spread plant and flower seeds.

3.) They can fly in total darkness by relying on sounds and echoes.

4.) Female bats have just one offspring (called a pup) per year.

5.) They are the only mammal that can fly!

Bats live a long time, usually about 5 to 15 years. But there is something that greatly endangers them: “a disease called white nose syndrome (WNS), that’s already killed millions of bats in North America and threatens millions more,” says the NPS.

Learn more about bats in the National Park System

Read more about WNS, which bats in which parks have the disease, and how park visitors can prevent it from spreading.

Photo of a Big Brown Bat at New River Gorge National River. Courtesy NPS.