TOLEDO, Ohio -- If you were a bat, the kind that flies, your fingers would be 3 feet long -- as long as, well, a baseball bat.
Ohio wildlife expert Marne Titchenell tells that to kids, gets their attention, then adds the icing on the cake -- that every night they’d have to eat some 80 dozen bugs and would like it.
Titchenell, who’s a wildlife specialist with Ohio State University Extension, gives workshops on bats around the state. Her next one, called “Mind-boggling Bats!” is on Aug. 15 at the Toledo Botanical Garden. It’s aimed at kids and their families.
“Oddly enough, I hadn’t really encountered bats growing up, at least nothing I remember,” Titchenell said. “But then I studied them in grad school and found out what fascinating creatures they are.”
She hopes to share her love for bats in the program set for Toledo. She’ll give sessions on basic bat facts -- do they really get stuck in our hair? (no) -- on how to build your own bat house, and on how bats help our farms, gardens and own backyards.
There will be craft tables where kids can make their own “bat ears,” bat masks and “build-a-bat” to take home, and also a free snack, which Titchenell said probably won’t be bugs.
The night will end with a walk outside to see and listen for the stars of the show.
So what about those fingers? “Bats are named for their skeletal structure,” Titchenell explained. “Their wings are actually their hands and are made up of elongated finger bones.
“I tell kids to stretch out their arms and look at how long they are. Then I tell them, if they were a bat, their fingers would be that long -- as long as their arm.”
And eating all those bugs? It’s how bats, at least the kinds in Ohio, make their living. They snarf up literally tons of pests -- both of people, such as mosquitoes, and of crops. A single bat may eat up to a thousand insects a night. A recent study said that in Ohio alone, bats prevent $740 million to $1.7 billion in crop damage from pests.
But some or all of that help is at risk. A new, deadly bat disease has shown up in Ohio. It’s called white-nose syndrome. And it’s already killed more than 1 million bats in the eastern U.S. and Canada. (People can’t catch it.)
Titchenell will talk about what the disease has done so far, what it may do in the future, and how bat-loving people can help.
“Mind-boggling Bats!” goes from 7-9:30 p.m. in the Terrace Room at the Toledo Botanical Garden, 5403 Elmer Dr., Toledo.
Registration costs $20 per adult with accompanying kids free. Included with paid registration is a copy of The Bat House Builder’s Handbook. Pre-registration is required by Aug. 10. Online registration is available at http://go.osu.edu/EBn.
Bring mosquito repellant for the walk, Titchenell said -- the bats can’t catch them all.
For more information, call firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail
OSU Extension’s Ohio Woodland Stewards Program, which helps people know their woods and what lives there better, and manage them better as well, is the sponsor.
OSU Extension is the statewide outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
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Photo: by Matt Reinbold from Bismarck, ND, USA (Big Brown Bat) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.