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A Deadly Fungus Kills Entire Bat Populations

March 16th, 2017

Many different species of bat that dwell within the United States are killed regularly by a disease that is known as white nose syndrome. The northern Midwest region of the United States has seen a tremendous dip in bat population sizes as a result of this disease hitting many bat populations.

White nose syndrome is named after the white fuzz-like fungus that grows on the faces of infected bats. The disease can be spread between bats, and the few bats that do contract the disease quickly begin to demonstrate unusual behavior. For example, some bats that have contracted this disease may leave their caves during the mid-winter season when it is normal for bats to be hibernating. Also, some bats afflicted with the disease will fly during the daytime hours, so if you see a bat flying around during the daytime, you could be looking at an infected bat.

A wildlife veterinarian from the University of Wisconsin says that white nose syndrome kills bats by causing their bodies to overheat. The disease causes bats to burn energy more quickly, and during the wintertime when very few insects are available for sustenance, white nose will result in death by starvation for the unfortunate bats. However, the rapid calorie burning will also steal heat from the bat’s body, which results in death by freezing. This is how most bats that are afflicted with white nose syndrome end up dying.

The disease is devastating to bats for a number of reasons. Although bats do live for a long thirty years on average, bats do not reproduce in high numbers. Therefore, restoring a bat population to its original numbers takes a long while. In fact, many experts say that bat populations can take as long as decades to recover from outbreaks of white nose syndrome.

Have you ever spotted a bat that had a white fuzzy fungus growing on its face?

 

 

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