Whidbey Camano Land TrustBat Expert Delivers Fascinating Facts Whidbey Camano Land TrustBat Expert Delivers Fascinating Facts

Bat Expert Delivers Fascinating Facts

Bat TalkSarah Schmidt, right, talks bats with Evelyn Daly after her presentation.

Nine Species of Bats Found in Island County

Whidbey Island’s Sarah Schmidt is smitten with bats. For 25 years, she’s studied, rescued and rehabilitated them.

Schmidt, a wildlife biologist, shared her knowledge of bats with Land Trust members during a fascinating “Bat Talk” on Central Whidbey in early September. She uses public education to shed light on one of nature’s most mysterious creatures of the night, hoping to dispel myths and lessen some fear along the way. Here are some facts and personal insight she shared with us:

  • Bats really aren’t that scary. “I find them very cute,” Schmidt said, noting their tiny faces and ears. Not convinced? Watch a video of Schmidt feeding a bat a meal worm to give it a boost of energy before being released.
  • Bats aren’t blind or dirty and they don’t get tangled in people’s hair. Although some bats carry rabies, that number is less than 1 percent. “Bats are very clean,” Schmidt said. “They groom themselves all the time. Usually, if you find a wild animal that’s dirty, then they’re sick.”
  • Nine species of bats are found in Island County (Schmidt has seen eight of them, including a hoary bat on Camano). The little brown myotis, also known as the little brown bat, is the one we see most often on our islands and is one of the most common bats in North America.
  • Bats are beneficial to the environment. They devour flying insects, including mosquitoes. A nursing female can consume from half to her full body weight each night during the summer.
  • Bats generally only have one baby, or “pup,” at a time. In most if not all North American species, pups remain in the maternity colony while their moms are out foraging for food, Schmidt said.
  • Bats’ hearing is extremely sensitive. They locate flying insects mostly by using a radar system known as echolocation. They locate prey by emitting ultrasonic sounds to measure the length of time before the sounds echo back. Schmidt shared a BBC video to demonstrate this.

We’re so grateful to Sarah for sharing her insight on such an intriguing subject. We’re thrilled that she’s agreed to put on more bat talks for Land Trust members in the future.