All About Bats
Bats at Pinnacles find refuge in the caves, cliffs, and trees. There is currently a colony of Townsend's Big-eared Bats in the Bear Gulch Cave and a colony of the Western Mastiff bat in the Balconies cave area.
Out of the 23 species of bats in California, 14 species are known to occur within Pinnacles National Park. All of the 14 species at Pinnacles and 41 of the 44 North American bats eat insects, spiders, and their kin. Three species eat fruit or nectar. There are only three species of vampire bats—they live in South America and feed on birds and mammals.
Western Pipstrelle (Pipistellus hesperus)
Bats may not be the most visible wildlife around, but they are doing a lot behind the scenes that affects larger ecosystems and, by extension, humans.
They control insect populations, which helps farmers and crops.
Bats eat A LOT of insects. Did you know that bats save the US agriculture industry more than $3 billion a year by naturally reducing crop damage and pesticide use? Many bat species also help disperse seeds and pollinate plants.
They help disperse seeds and pollinate plants.
They are part of the food web.
Their nutrient-rich guano provides food to smaller organisms, and many larger organisms like hawks, falcons, and owls rely on them for prey. Bats help keep natural areas healthy. Other living things depend on bats for survival. Organisms that live in caves rely on bat guano (droppings) for nutrients. Fruit-eating bats in the Pacific Islands and Latin America disperse seeds, and nectar-eating bats in the Southwestern US pollinate plants, such as blue agave (that’s right, bats help you drink tequila!). Several animals, including hawks, falcons, owls, weasels and ringtail cats, rely on bats as prey. If a population of bats crashes in an area, other affected populations will likely decline as well.
This means that bat population crashes have economic and ecological repercussions.
Plus, bats are cute, weird, and inspiring! We want to give the next generation the chance to be fascinated by their wild ability to echolocate prey, hibernate through the winter in massive colonies, and evoke maximum cuteness.
Threats to Bats
Across North America, bats face many different threats. A devastating disease called white-nose syndrome, changing climate, windmill turbines, and habitat loss have caused large numbers of bats to die.
Bat Monitoring at Pinnacles
Park biologists conduct research and monitoring to better understand bats at Pinnacles. This work has become especially relevant due to the spread of white nose syndrome, a deadly disease caused by a fungal pathogen that is affecting bats across North America. Information about bat roosting habits and how bats use different habitats could help researchers understand how susceptible the bats at Pinnacles may be to this disease. In the event that the fungus spreads to Pinnacles, this knowledge may prove critical for protecting local bat populations. Bat monitoring at Pinnacles is part of a collaborative, multi-agency monitoring effort happening throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
What can you do to protect bats at Pinnacles?
Visitors, climbers, cavers, and outdoors enthusiasts:
As a visitor to Pinnacles, you are a crucial part of our efforts to prevent the spread of white nose syndrome. The fungus that causes white nose syndrome can survive on your clothes and gear for a long time, meaning you could unknowingly traffic the fungus into a new environment where it could infect bats. You can help by being aware of your gear and surroundings.
In and around your home, garden, and community:
Volunteer and advocate!
Last updated: November 22, 2019