Approximately 1500 little brown bats (scientific name: Myotis lucifugus) call Cumberland Caverns their home. Typically, bats live in areas of the cave that are not frequented by guests, but we do have a few who like to hang around on the rock ledges and overhangs of the Daily Walking Tour trail.
Little brown bats grow to about 3.5” and weigh about 1/4 of an ounce. Not only are they small, but they often blend in with the cave walls and go virtually undetected. Sometimes, you will see one fly high above the chandelier of the Volcano Room, but don’t worry, they are harmless and never encounter the humans below.
Bats are a very important part of our ecosystem. They are the primary predators of night-flying insects and studies suggest they consume 70% of their body weight each evening. That’s approximately 1000 insects per hour and nursing mothers can eat upwards of 4000 bugs in that same timespan! Bats are also beneficial in pollination and seed dispersal. Most people think that only birds and bees aid in pollination, but bats are the nightshift of the operation.
If you see bats in your area, have no fear; contrary to urban myths, bats aren’t looking to take a bite out of you, they are just searching for a safe and warm place to call home.
- Bats have excellent eyesight.
- No vampire bats live in the United States.
- Some bats hibernate for the winter but can survive freezing temperatures-even after being encased in ice!
- Bats typically only have one baby a year and they can distinguish their pup from thousands, even millions of others, by how it sounds and smells.
- Bat droppings (guano) are one of the richest sources of fertilizer.
- The largest bat is the “flying fox” that lives on the islands of the South Pacific. Their wingspan can reach up to 6 feet.
- The smallest bat is the bumblebee bat of Thailand, which is smaller than a thumbnail and weighs less than a penny.