In all, there are over 1000 species of bats in the world and about 45 common species in the United States. Through the years, popular literature, myths, movies and their sometimes sinister appearance has given them a reputation as something to be feared. It is true that bats can carry disease, consequently they should only be handled by knowledgeable individuals and you do not want them in your house. However, under the proper circumstances, they can be quite beneficial. For instance, some bats can consume thousands of mosquitoes in just one night and others such as fruit bats help pollinate crops and vegetation.
Common Types Of Bats In Oklahoma
Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifigus) – This brown species can consume over 1,200 insects an hour. They measure between 3 to 3.5 inches head to tail and their wingspan is 8.7 to 11 inches across. They are olive-brown to dark-yellow brown in color and have large mouse like ears. They have a gestation period of 50 to 60 days and mothers usually only have one baby, also called a pup, which is born sometime between late May to early July.
Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus Fuscus). About four to five inches in length, the “big” brown bat can have a wingspan of twelve to thirteen inches across. Their animal fur, or hair if you prefer, is rather long, and can range in color from a shiny brown, to pinkish tans, to rich chocolates or even an olive buff color. They too have ears similar to a mouse. Big brown bats usually have one to two babies at a time, which are also called pups. Bat pups are born in late May or early June and their gestation period is around 60 to 80 days.
Mexican Free-tailed Bats (Tadarida brasiliensis). The largest known concentration of these inhabits the Central Texas caves. This Mexican free tail concentration can consume over 1,000 tons of insects a night. Colors range from dark brown to grey. Their unique tail gave them their name, as it protrudes freely beyond the tail membrane. Free tails have one young, and give birth between the first and third weeks of June. The cave dwelling Mexican Free-tailed Bat is most common in the western half of the state.
Other types of bats in Oklahoma found in different parts of the state cover over 20 species and include but are not limited to the Red, Seminole, Gray, Pallid, Ozark, Cave, Small-footed and Pipistrel varieties.
South Of The Border – The Vampire Bat
There are over 1,100 species of bats throughout the world ranging in habitat, size, color and diet. But, the vampire bat is perhaps the most famous of all. Vampire bats tend to be “scary” because they live off the blood of other animals. The Dracula movies haven’t helped much either. Vampires have a specialized anatomy that other bats do not have, an anatomy that is designed around their feeding habits that includes heat sensors and sound processors to locate victims, razor sharp teeth for penetrating hides, and, a substance in their saliva known as Draculin that prevents the bite wound from healing until the vampire has completed the feeding ritual. Common hosts include sleeping cows and other mammals. Vampire bats like to approach from the ground and can walk, run and hop to stalk their prey. The good news for Oklahomans is that Vampire bats are mainly found outside the United States in Mexico, Central and South America.