We are winding down from bbon (winter), and with the mnokme (spring) season comes new life, which reminded me of the little creatures that silently do their thing to bring us nutrients and other goods supporting our lives. We all see the hummingbirds, butterflies and bees moving about doing needed cross-pollination to bring life to a variety of areas.
But while we sleep, another group of pollinators represents almost 25 percent of the mammal population. There are more than 11,000 species of this group in the world. You’re probably wondering, “What animal is he talking about?” Well, roughly one in four animals on this earth is a babishagnegwe (bat).
In general, many of us may be unaware of the fact that bats are involved in some fashion in the creation of soap, toothpaste, cosmetics, coffee, margarine, chewing gum, candles, paper, ink, wood, fuel, rope, twine, rubber, spices, vegetables, fruits, chocolate, margaritas, air fresheners and even life-saving medicines.
For example, fruit bats contribute to more than 450 commercial products and 80 medicines through pollination and seed dispersal. More than 95 percent of rainforest regrowth comes from seeds spread by fruit bats. We are not only involved with bats unknowingly, but we are dependent upon them.
Unfortunately, when most of us hear the word bat, we think of the vampire variety. Out of 11,000 species, only three are vampires. They are small, about the size of a package of M&M’s. They do not attack humans or suck our blood. They prefer to get their tiny meals from other animals. Moreover, all three tend to reside in Latin America, leaving the remaining 1,097 species for other areas that benefit us.
Insect-eating bat species are the figurative vacuum cleaners of the night skies. They eat millions of harmful bugs. They protect us by eating insects that destroy crops and cause human disease.
If you think about what we have done for the eagles with our own aviary near Shawnee, which takes in injured birds and nurtures them back to health, Bat World Sanctuary’s function is to help save bat populations. Established in 1994 in Weatherford, Texas, it has expanded to include more than 20 rescue centers nationwide.
We are fortunate that this organization exists, because the bat population, like the bee population, is declining worldwide, mostly due to myths and misconceptions. More than half of the bats in the U.S. are listed as rare, threatened or endangered.
Bats are not flying mice; they are not remotely related to rodents. They are a unique animal that scientists have classified in the mammal order of Chiroptera, which means hand-wing. Contrary to popular belief, they are not blind. In fact, most see as well as humans and some see in color. The fruit bat’s eyesight is much like a cat’s, and they see well in very low light.
Many bats use echolocation, or reflected sound, to fly and catch insects at night. This biological sonar is thousands of times more efficient than any system built by humans. They have a built-in sonar system allowing them to navigate at breakneck speed through total darkness.
If you have ever seen a murmuration, or tightly formed, swarm-like group of bats flying from a cave, biological sonar allows them to maneuver without touching or running into their peers flying above, below, behind or beside them.
Bat World Sanctuary granted permission for my use of their literature, research and data in this month’s column. For those of you wanting more information on this diminutive and important mammal, please visit batworld.org or call 940-325-3404.
Bat World Sanctuary is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit, volunteer-based organization. Its website offers educational material, videos, kid’s games, live bat cams, bat rescue and sponsorship information and memberships, which help buy food, medical supplies and maintain sanctuaries.
My next-door neighbor built a bat house on the south side of his detached garage. If you have the desire to get involved in a similar fashion, Bat World is a great place to find more information. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Bat World Sanctuary is not state or federally funded.
I hope you find this information to be a bit of cool stuff that reveals how vital this miniature powerhouse is and how we benefit from it. I am honored to serve you and proud to be your elected representative. For help or information relative to Tribal services or benefits where you think I may assist you, please contact me.
Bmashi (He Soars)
Representative , District 3
112 Bedford Road, Suite 116
Bedford, TX 76022