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Bye Bye Bats February 28, 2008

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Animals, Think About It.
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Bat in a Tree

You probably don’t give a lot of thought to bats, maybe because they don’t tend to be particularly visible creatures to most of us. Biologists in North America, however, are giving a lot of thought to bats right now. In fact, they are extremely perplexed and confused about bats. Why? A very mysterious illness is killing off bats in enormous numbers.

Bat Illness Strikes

In New York state last winter, the illness was identified in two caves, where it killed off almost all of the bats. What is particularly worrisome now is that it has spread to Vermont, where it has afflicted bats in New England’s biggest bat cave – Aeolus cave.

White-nose Syndrome

It’s called white-nose syndrome, which leaves a bat emaciated and with a white fungus on its nose. While the fungus isn’t the actual cause of their death, the combination of changes that occur do lead to the bat’s death. These changes include abnormal hibernation patterns and weight loss, leaving the bats unusually thin and suffering from related problems. Biologists still aren’t sure exactly sure how this illness gets transmitted. They also don’t know what causes it – if it’s the result of something happening in the bat’s environment or perhaps another cause entirely. For now though, officials are recommending that people avoid caves in the affected area for the next few months because by then, we will all hopefully know more about this mysterious illness.

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