Bats



White Nose BatmanHoly Fungus, Batman! Reports David Wrights and Jonann Brady of ABC NEWS:

A mysterious fungus is killing off thousands of bats around the country. Scientists are calling it white-nose syndrome, because of the distinctive white smudges on the noses and wings of infected bats.

White-nose itself doesn’t kill bats, but it disturbs their sleep so that they end their hibernation early. During the winter there are no insects to eat, so the bats literally starve to death.

Bats may be one of Mother Nature’s least cuddly creatures, but they are ecologically important, keeping mosquitos and insects that attack crops in check.

Researchers say the syndrome has killed upward of half a million bats from New England to Virginia.


BatVia New Times:

The abandoned iron mine at Mine Hill in Roxbury used to provide a winter home for 3,000 bats — the largest bat hibernaculum in the state. The last time Jennie Dickson, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, counted, there were about 100 bats there.

“That’s not good,” she said. For the past five years, the bats of the eastern United States have been dying in like numbers — one of the worst environmental catastrophes in recent years.

What biologists like Dickson knew was that the dying bats could be found with an off-white fungus on their nose and wings. What was causing the die-off was uncertain …


BBC News reports:
Vampire Bat

Peru’s health ministry has sent emergency teams to a remote Amazon region to battle an outbreak of rabies spread by vampire bats.

Four children in the Awajun indigenous tribe died after being bitten by the bloodsucking mammals.

Health workers have given rabies vaccine to more than 500 people who have also been attacked.

Some experts have linked mass vampire bat attacks on people in the Amazon to deforestation.

The rabies outbreak is focused on the community of Urakusa in the north-eastern Peruvian Amazon, close to the border with Ecuador.

The indigenous community appealed for help after being unable to explain the illness that had killed the children.


Poor Count … One, two, three … via All That’s Interesting:

Fear and Loathing on Sesame Street

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive…” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?”

— Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas