Rita Dixon: Well, right now, some of the bat species that are affected by white-nose syndrome we’re really concerned about, and some of them have been petitioned to be listed under the Endangered Species Act like the little brown bat, for example, the northern long-eared bat. We have other bats that are endangered; the Indiana bat, the gray bat, some of the nectar-feeding bats in the southwest, and so those are primarily the most endangered bats in North America.
Jake: Hi. My name is Jake. I go to Shadow Hills, and my question is, do bats have friends with other species of animals?
Rita Dixon: Well, first of all, many bats are social, and they form colonies, and, you know, they cuddle up next to other bats and talk to other bats, communicate with them. But, typically, bats do not socialize with other animal species. However, bats in captivity also readily interact with humans.
Jack: Hi my name is Jack. I go to White Pine Elementary, and my question is, how many hours a night do bats sleep?
Jesse Barber: Well, first off, bats sleep during the day, not at night. So, when they’re sleeping during the day, they can go into a form of hibernation called torpor, which is a much deeper sleep than you and I go into, and they’ll go into this torpor for three to six hours a night.
Joan Cartan-Hansen: Sam asks, what can we do to protect bats?
Rita Dixon: There are lots of things we can do to protect bats. One of the most important ways we can protect bats is to – when we find bats, leave the bats alone and not handle live bats so you don’t get bitten, because, when you get bitten, it means that bat has to die.
Other ways we can protect bats is to use fewer pesticides on our food because bats are affected by pesticides, and it’s very dangerous to them. We also need to survey abandoned mines before closing them so 1that we don’t trap bats. And one – another really important thing we can do to protect bats is, when bats are in buildings, we need to make sure that if you don’t want the bats living in your attic or your house that you wait until the pups are grown and can fly before you evict the bats from your home.
And other important ways of protecting bats is just to raise your awareness about bats and tell your friends, your family, your teachers, that bats are important in the environment.
Joan Cartan-Hansen: Rita, before we run out of time, why did you decide to pick a job that deals with bats?
Rita Dixon: Well, actually, I didn’t originally pick the job for bats. I originally worked on birds. But the job that I ended up doing brought bats to me, and I’ve been working on bats ever since, and I’m really grateful for it.
Joan Cartan-Hansen: And Jesse, if someone is interested in doing this as a job, what should he or she study in school?
Jesse Barber: Well, if you want to be a bat biologist, the first thing to do is get an undergraduate degree in biology, and then you usually have to go to graduate school and get an advanced degree; a master’s or a PhD in biology.
Joan Cartan-Hansen: I’m sorry. We have run out of time. Thank you both for being here. I appreciate it.
Rita Dixon: Thank you.
Jesse Barber: Great to be here.
Joan Cartan-Hansen: And thanks, too, to the folks at Boise State University for hosting us.