Federal and state officials celebrate bat week

Animals

Courtesy: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Bats first appeared on Earth 50 million years ago, and today, there are more than 1,300 species worldwide and 47 in the United States.

Every year at the end of October, the United States Department of the Interior celebrates Bat Week to highlight the role of bats in nature and all these little creatures do for us.

Over 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination. Bats help spread seeds for nuts and figs as well as cacao, which is the main ingredient in chocolate. Check out nine of the coolest bat species in the United States.

Michigan bats feed on a variety of moths, flies, beetles and other insects. When feeding under normal conditions they can capture 600 to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects per hour, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Check out 13 awesome facts about bats.

Bats are the only mammals that are able to fly. The wing of a bat, which is totally different then that of birds or insects, is formed from skin stretched over long, thin fingers that encompass the hind legs and often the tail.

In 2014, white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease affecting North American bats, was confirmed in Michigan. Infected bats prematurely awaken from hibernation, rapidly deplete their fat reserves and are unable to survive the winter.

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