More than half the bat species in North America are in danger of dying out. One of them is the Indiana Bat.
The Indiana Bat
- It weighs only as much as three pennies. Its wingspan is about the same size as a sheet of notebook paper. This bat is no threat to anybody.
- You might think that the Indiana bat is found only in that state, but it actually ranges over most of the eastern half of the United States.
- Sometimes as many as 50,000 Indiana bats will hibernate together in a single cave. That's about how many people it takes to fill a baseball or football stadium!
- Every night, the Indiana bat eats up to half its own weight in insects, snapping up bugs that would bother people or damage crops.
Why is the Indiana Bat Endangered?
- People are moving into the forests where the bats live and cutting down the large, old trees there. The bats make their summer roosts in the gaps between the bark and the tree trunk of these trees. With the trees gone, the bats have no place to rest or live in warm weather.
- People are also causing problems in the caves where these bats hibernate in the winter. People may block cave openings, for instance. This changes the temperature, air flow, and humidity of the caves change—and that can be dangerous—even deadly—for the bats.
- Pesticides—poisonous chemicals used to kill insects—may be a problem for the bats. That means fewer bugs for the bats to eat. And feeding upon poisoned bugs may allow the poison into the bats' bodies.
- It's difficult for the Indiana bat population to grow, because female bats give birth to only one baby each year.
What's being done?
Protection: The Indiana bat is on the endangered species list. That means it is protected by law from being harmed or killed.
Habitat: In many parks and preserves, people are protecting the forests and caves used by the Indiana bat.
What You Can Do to Help the Indiana Bat—and Other Bats
Spread the Word: Let others know how helpful and beautiful bats are—and that they need our help!
Build a Bat House: With an adult's help, you can build a house for bats to roost in using materials from a home supply store. Here's how you can learn to build a bat house.
Illustration by Dave Clegg