Last month while hosting cocktail hour some of our guests reported an injured bat at the pool. We went to the pool to look for the bat and found it hanging on the pools’ gate. We watched it fly up into a clump of Spanish moss and at a quick glance- considering its size and coloration, my immediate reaction was “Yellow Bat!”After quickly explaining the significance of potentially finding a Northern Yellow Bat, my very enthusiastic guest companions helped me photograph it. I sent the pictures to Georgia’s Non-Game DNR Bat Biologist, Trina Morris and she confirmed that it was indeed a Yellow Bat! This is a significant find considering that it is only our second documentation of a Yellow Bat on Little St. Simons Island. The first documentation was in May 2010 when GA Non-Game DNR captured one in a mist net.
Little is known about Yellow Bats in Georgia and biologists are working to obtain more information. The Yellow Bat is known to use Spanish moss as a roosting location. Biologists believe that their preferred habitat is old growth maritime forest, which has the highest density of Spanish moss, and hope that more data about the species may be gathered by mist netting on LSSI and Georgia’s other barrier islands. Mist netting is a way to capture bats in an effort to determine local species diversity, population size and health. A large nylon net is raised, usually over a small area of fresh water, using a pulley system on two metal poles. When the bats fly over the water to drink the idea is for them to get entangled in the net. Nets are periodically checked by biologists for bats, when a bat is caught, the net is lowered and the bat is carefully removed. Species, weight, sex, gestational stage (if pregnant or lactating), and an age estimate are some information gathered when bats are in hand. We are looking forward to working more Nongame DNR on surveys and research on the island and hope that through this we are able to learn more about the Northern Yellow Bat in coastal Georgia.
Bats are fascinating and especially valuable in helping to control insect populations. Bats should be given the same respect as other wild animals and should only be handled by professionals. If you find a bat that you believe is injured in your home or yard, please contact a wildlife professional for help. If a seemingly healthy bat finds itself trapped in your home try opening your doors and windows to provide an escape route. Like other wild mammals never pick up a bat. Thank you to the Odea Family who were so helpful in reporting and photographing the Yellow Bat!