Bats at a Glance

Article and photo by Neil Marchington


-Bats are mammals which nurse their young while hanging upside down

-Every bat in Oregon eats insects, and only insects.

-Bats use no energy to hang upside down. Dead bats can continue to hang from cave ceilings for
many years after they die.

-The largest bat species in Central Oregon can weigh up to one ounce. The Townsend Big-Eared
bats common in local caves weigh about a half ounce at the most.

-Bat bones are hollow

-Local bats have been known to live 30 years or more, very unusual for such a small mammal.

-Bats are estimated to benefit agriculture many billions of dollars a year in the U.S. by
consuming pest insects. Some estimates place this figure over $50 billion. A moderate sized
roost of bats can consume over a million insects a year.

-Less than 1% of bats are rabid. An average of about 2 people a year die in the U.S. of rabies
(not all are bat related), making the danger posed by bats extremely low.




We are visitors to their homes


Many people think of bats when they think of caves. Bats are incredible animals and
often misunderstood by people. Often bats encountered in caves are disturbed by the invasion
of their homes. During times like hibernation or maternity, disturbances may lead to the death
of these important animals. Some bat species spend the majority of their lives in caves. Other
common roosts include trees, buildings, bridges, rock crevices, and mines.


Before visiting a wild cave, please check our Cave Access page
for current closure information. If you encounter bats please leave the area to avoid disturbing
them. Disturbance during hibernation or maternity periods may lead to death for the bats. A
bat coming out of hibernation early can lose 10% of its body weight during a single disturbance.

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The Oregon High Desert Grotto is an internal organization of the National Speleological Society. We are dedicated to the study and preservation of caves.


Membership in the Grotto is $15 a year and comes with an invitation to the Google Group forum, access to the Grotto library, issues of the Oregon Underground newsletter, and information on yearly caving activities and trips.