If you’re a reporter, or just curious, we’ve compiled interesting facts, stats and information about BCI and bats.
If you are a member of the media and have questions about bats and BCI, please contact Javier Folgar, Director of Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512.327.9721 Ext. 410.
About Bat Conservation International
Based in Austin, Texas, our mission is to conserve the world’s bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet. We are dedicated to saving bat species and their habitats around the world. Founded in 1982, BCI has grown into a globally recognized conservation organization dedicated to ending bat extinctions. We’re fiercely passionate, expert conservationists and scientists who are leading the charge to ensure the worldwide survival of these extraordinary mammals.
Working together, our goal is to redefine what is possible in global conservation, through the utilization of cutting-edge tools, technology, and training to create a real, measurable impact.
A world without bats would look very different than the one you know — and not for the better.
With more than 1,400 species located all around the globe, bats are amazing animals that are vital to the health of our environment and economy. Although we may not always see them, bats are hard at work all around the world each night.
Bats consume vast amounts of insects, including some of the most damaging agricultural pests. Others pollinate many valuable plants, ensuring the production of fruits that support local economies, as well as diverse animal populations. Fruit-eating bats in the tropics disperse seeds that are critical to restoring cleared or damaged rainforests. Even bat droppings (called guano) are valuable as a rich natural fertilizer. Guano is a major natural resource worldwide, and, when mined responsibly with bats in mind, it can provide significant economic benefits for landowners and local communities.
- More than 1,400 species of bats account for about 20% of all mammal species – making bats the second largest group of mammals in the world.
- Bats are the only mammal capable of true flight, and they have belly buttons.
- For their body size, bats live longer than any other mammal – on average 3.5x longer than similar sized mammals. The world’s longest-lived mammal for its size is the Brandt’s myotis of Eurasia, some of these bats are known to live longer than 40 years.
Bats & COVID-19:
Bat conservation has never been more critical as COVID-19 impacts the lives of people worldwide.
- While the exact chain of transmission that resulted in COVID-19 may never be established, we know that the destruction of habitats and exploitation of wildlife increase the risk that new pathogens will jump into the human population. We are healthier and safer when we conserve wildlife and natural habitats.
- While food supplies and economies are strained as a result of the pandemic, bats continue to play a vital role in restoring our natural ecosystems and supporting human economies across the world.
- Bats may hold the key to the next breakthrough vaccine or treatment as they have a unique ability to tolerate viruses.
To learn more, visit our Bats & COVID-19 Updates page.
Benefits of Bats:
- Each night, bats can eat up to half their body weight in insects.
- Scientists have estimated insect-eating bats provide more than $23B in agricultural and human health savings for the planet every year.
- Bats pollinate, disperse, and protect valuable cash crops including bananas, guava, durians, cashews, dates, figs, cacao, sugar, corn, and the agave we need to make tequila!
- Bat poop, called “guano” is a valuable natural fertilizer high in nitrogen and was used to manufacture black gunpowder during the Civil War.
Bats are Endangered:
- Bats are exceptionally vulnerable to extinction, in part because they are among the slowest-reproducing mammals on Earth for their size; most North American species only produce one pup per year.
- Human activities threaten bats in many way. From habitat destruction and degradation to direct persecution to hunting bats for bushmeat, global bat populations face threats from humans.
- White Nose Syndrome is a disease caused by a non-native fungus that infects bats and wakes them up during hibernation. This process uses a lot of energy at a time when there is no food, resulting in starvation and dehydration. It is decimating bat populations of multiple species, putting many species at risk of extinction in North America.
Busted Myths, and Bats in Pop Culture:
- Contrary to popular misconceptions, bats aren’t blind and don’t get entangled in human hair.
- There are only 3 bat species out of more than 1,400 that drink blood: the common vampire bat which snacks on large mammals such as horses, cows, and wild mammals, and two rarer species which both prefer birds: the hairy-legged vampire bat, and the white-winged vampire bat.
- Common vampire bats are social creatures who share food with less fortunate roost mates who are hungry. Vampire bats know that sharing is caring!
- Researchers are studying an anticoagulant found in vampire bat saliva as a possible treatment for human stroke patients.
- Like many wild animals, bats can carry rabies. The vast majority of bats are healthy, do not have rabies, and pose no risk to people. You should never handle any wild animal you find on the ground or that is acting unusual.
Bracken Cave, Outside San Antonio, TX:
- Home to 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats, Bracken cave is the world’s largest bat colony, and one of the largest concentrations of mammals on earth.
- The best viewing season for Mexican free-tailed bats in Central Texas is from the end of May, through the end of September.
- Due to the shape of the cave, the bats spiral out each night each night at dusk in the shape of a tornado, and it takes up to 4 hours for them to empty out the cave.
- They eat up to 147 tons of insects nightly, saving the region’s cotton growers around $740,000 every year in pesticide and crop damage costs.
- The bat’s nightly emergence attracts more than 100,000 visitors annually to Congress Avenue Bridge, bringing an estimated $10 million in eco-tourist dollars to Austin, Texas.
- Even in huge colonies where millions of baby bats cluster at up to 500 young per square foot, mother Mexican free-tailed bats find and nurse their own baby.
Mexican free-tailed bats:
- Fastest mammals – clocking in at 98mph
- Live up to 7-12 years in the wild
- Weigh ~15 grams, or as much as 2 quarters (50 cents)
- Have a body as big as your two thumbs together, and a 10 inch wingspan
Recent Press Coverage
New York Times – Dec. 11, 2020
The Virus, the Bats, and Us
National Geographic – Oct 14, 2020
Mezcal is more popular than ever – why that’s bad news for bats
BBC World Service – June 26, 2020
Bats and COVID-19 @19:30
CBS News – October 31, 2019
Inside the world’s largest bat colony at Bracken Cave Preserve in Texas
PBS Nature: American Spring Live – April 30, 2019
Inside a Bat Tornado
National Geographic – April 2018
First Bat Removed From U.S. Endangered Species List
CNN – August 7, 2017
The real bat cave that’s even more fantastic than Batman’s
Wall Street Journal – June 6, 2016
A Biologist Works to Reconcile Bats and Wind Energy
Mike Daulton – Executive Director
Mike Daulton has served as Executive Director of Bat Conservation International since 2017. Mike leads all aspects of BCI’s progress toward becoming one of the fastest growing and most effective conservation organizations anywhere in the world.
Mike is an award-winning conservationist with two decades of experience as an environmental leader in the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining BCI, Mike served as a senior-level policy director and organizational strategist for the National Audubon Society for 17 years, most recently as their Vice President of Policy and Strategy. Mike is recognized for his success in building complex coalitions with a wide variety of governmental, nonprofit, philanthropic, and private sector leaders to drive conservation at scale. He led Audubon’s successful efforts to defend bedrock environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act. He also led efforts to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling and pass the RESTORE Act through Congress, which dedicates $20 billion to restoring Gulf Coast ecosystems.
Mike has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress, appeared on CSPAN and CBS News, and been quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and many other major news outlets.
Mike graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, San Diego with a B.Sc. in Ecology and earned a Master’s in Public Policy from Duke University. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two daughters.
Winifred Frick, Ph.D. – Chief Scientist
Dr. Winifred Frick serves as our Chief Scientist and leads scientific research that informs our evidence-based approaches to conservation. She is responsible for integrating science and conservation at Bat Conservation International to achieve lasting impact for bats around the world.
Winifred has more than 20 years of experience studying bat ecology and conservation biology. She has published more than 60 scientific research papers and is a recognized global expert on bat ecology and conservation. Her research background includes studies on how bat populations respond to natural and anthropogenic perturbations, including high-impact research on White-nose Syndrome and the impacts of climate and global change on bats.
Winifred is an Associate Research Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received her Ph.D. from Oregon State University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies. She was a postdoctoral scholar with Dr. Tom Kunz at Boston University.
Kevin Pierson – Chief of Conservation & Global Strategy
Kevin Pierson is the principal conservation leader, manager, and planner for Bat Conservation International (BCI). He is responsible for the vision, oversight, planning and implementation of a comprehensive conservation program that charts a path for growth in BCI’s conservation impact and global conservation reach.
Kevin comes to BCI with over 15 years of extensive nonprofit experience as a conservation strategist, fundraiser, and advocate. Kevin is an inspirational leader with strong expertise in identifying and implementing steps to achieve BCI’s mission including clarifying ideas into fundable programs, raising funds, and managing for results.
Fran Hutchins – Director, Bracken Cave Preserve
Fran has been with Bat Conservation International since 2006, directing educational bat flight programs and the restoration work on BCI’s Bracken Cave Preserve and working with Central Texas landowners protecting other bat roosts. His work at the preserve protects the largest colony of bats in the world.
He is often asked to speak at various events, sharing his passion for informing the public about bats. This extended’s to schools, zoos, Scouts and organizations from around the world. He has been featured on Texas Country Reporter, Travel Channel, several documentaries as well as Texas Highway Magazine.
In 2013 he was recognized by the US Forest Service for Wings Across the Americas / BatsLIVE education program.
Fran is also a Caver and Texas Master Naturalist and Eagle Scout.
Javier Folgar, MBA – Director of Communications
Javier Folgar joined Bat Conservation International in October 2018. As the Director of Communications, he’s dedicated to conserving the world’s bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet.
With over a decade of experience in Communications, Javier is a conservationist who served in key roles protecting wildlife and our natural & cultural resources. He received a B.S. in Marketing from Rutgers University and earned an MBA from Montclair State University. Most recently he served as the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) with accomplishments including developing an award-winning video series, called myATstory, that elevated the exposure for the organization. He also led nationwide campaigns that substantially grew ATC’s brand identity, advocated for America’s public lands, and increased financial support for the organization.
Javier currently serves on the board for Altruistic Odyssey, is a volunteer for the Catholic Fellowship of Frederick, and is a member of the Public Relations Society of America. During his free time, Javier is a competitive swimmer for the Tsunami US Master swim team and enjoys hiking on the weekends with his lab.
The following images are available for use by the media in high resolution. All images must be credited to the appropriate photographer and include the caption: “Photo courtesy of Bat Conservation International”.