CORDOVA (AP) -- Christal Czarnecki is batty for bats.
''I really like bats, they're great,'' said Czarnecki, a guide at the U.S. Forest Service in Cordova. ''Each one eats about 1,000 mosquitoes an hour.''
She's referring to little brown bats. Each one weighs less than an ounce and this time of year, they're looking for a place to hibernate. To bats, the roof peak in an attic is quiet, warm and dark -- an ideal place to spend the winter.
Their natural habitat for hibernation, Czarnecki said, are places such as abandoned mines and caves. But in a place such as Cordova, there are a lot more nice, dry roof peaks around, than abandoned mine shafts.
''I've answered about a half dozen complaints so far this fall,'' Czarnecki said.
If a homeowner discovers bats in the roof, the best thing to do is station people around the house to find out where the bats are exiting, Czarnecki said. Once the bat entry-exit is located, the homeowner should staple bird-netting or screen over the top half of the hole so they can continue to get out but won't be able to get back in. After a couple days, the rest of the hole can be covered.
''It's a good idea to go up and check to make sure they are gone. If you kill a bunch of them up there, it's going to smell,'' Czarnecki said.
She said bat defense should not be undertaken in July or August because that's when there are plenty of young bats, which will grow up into voracious mosquito eaters if left alone.
Czarnecki, a member of Bat Conservation International, said bats are pretty cool creatures. They can slow their respiration rate to two breaths per minute when they are hibernating.
The bats mate in September, shortly before they retire for the winter. Their young, however, are born in July or August. The females, it seems, employ a method of delayed implantation, similar to that of bears. The sperm is kept alive and active all winter, but does not fertilize her eggs until spring.
The colonies of hibernating bats are segregated by the sexes into maternal colonies and bachelor colonies. Czarnecki said she doesn't know why the colonies segregate for the winter. The size of the hibernating can range anywhere from 20 to 800 bats, depending on how much space is available. Little brown bats, she said, are known to travel up to 200 miles to find a place to hibernate for the winter.
Little brown bats don't bite and they can't spread rabies, she said.
''There are no reports of little brown bats with rabies,'' Czarnecki said.
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