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oopossums feeling around in the dark for fallen baby bats

PostPosted: Mar 7, 2011 1:19 pm
by mastodon
I have heard that in the spring caves get flooded with opossums feeling around in the dark for fallen baby bats.
Is this true has anyone seen this? Can you give me any tips on seeing it for myself?

Re: oopossums feeling around in the dark for fallen baby bats

PostPosted: Mar 21, 2011 9:47 am
by nathanroser
I saw a dead possum several thousand feet into Flowerpot cave in WV. There's only one known entrance so it either went in there to eat and got lost in the dark or fell in through a very small hole that people haven't found yet.

Re: oopossums feeling around in the dark for fallen baby bats

PostPosted: Mar 21, 2011 11:19 am
by Pippin
It wouldn't surprise me if that happens. But it's an incredibly bad idea to visit a cave with baby bats. You would disturb them and likely cause some (or lots) to fall from the ceiling and die. And besides, nobody should visit a bat cave when WNS is a concern.

Re: oopossums feeling around in the dark for fallen baby bats

PostPosted: Mar 21, 2011 2:49 pm
by nathanroser
I'm pretty sure there were no baby bats in there since it was early spring. I have also heard stories of possums, racoons, and feral cats going into caves and clmbing the walls to reach low hanging bats.

Re: oopossums feeling around in the dark for fallen baby bats

PostPosted: Mar 22, 2011 5:06 am
by commanderzoom
Where can I find a dirt cheap game camera? I want to set it up by the entrance of our cave to see what happens opossum-wise. I'd set one up furthur inside as well if they were cheap enough & had infrared. Or do they all have infrared?

Re: oopossums feeling around in the dark for fallen baby bats

PostPosted: Mar 22, 2011 4:46 pm
by wyandottecaver
muddy,

early spring is when baby bats are born. Forest dwelling bats have their young in...forests. But some species, notably gray bats, birth and raise their young in caves. Gray bats in particular are very sensitive to any disturbance, and a whole generation of young can potentially be lost in one incident.

As to the original question, opossums will eat anything they can fit in their mouth. However, caves aren't exactly raining baby bats. More likely they are looking for beetles and such in the guano. Certainly low hanging bats are vulnerable to predators.

I was once in the position of deciding whether to shoot a protected but common owl (with a permit) or let him continue his nightly visit to munch on hibernating endangered bats. A few days of harassment convinced him to look for a different honey hole :)

Re: oopossums feeling around in the dark for fallen baby bats

PostPosted: Mar 22, 2011 5:30 pm
by ArCaver
wyandottecaver wrote:muddy,

early spring is when baby bats are born. Forest dwelling bats have their young in...forests. But some species, notably gray bats, birth and raise their young in caves. Gray bats in particular are very sensitive to any disturbance, and a whole generation of young can potentially be lost in one incident.

As to the original question, opossums will eat anything they can fit in their mouth. However, caves aren't exactly raining baby bats. More likely they are looking for beetles and such in the guano. Certainly low hanging bats are vulnerable to predators.

I was once in the position of deciding whether to shoot a protected but common owl (with a permit) or let him continue his nightly visit to munch on hibernating endangered bats. A few days of harassment convinced him to look for a different honey hole :)


Did you witness the owl removing bats from the roost? A few years ago I saw an eastern screech owl roosting at a gray bat cave entrance. Thinking it might be feeding on some of the exiting grays, or on the pips and big browns nearer the entrance I collected pellets to examine. The pellets had a few mouse bones but mostly consisted of beetle wing shell pieces. It's easy to make assumptions about such things. I think it was either Anahuac or Attwater Wildlife Refuge that decided they would save their prairie chickens by removing great horned owls. The skunk population shot up so fast, skunks being a smelly little vacuum cleaner of ground nesting hens, eggs and nestlings, they damn near lost all the prairie chickens. The owls had kept the skunks in check.

Re: oopossums feeling around in the dark for fallen baby bats

PostPosted: Mar 22, 2011 6:13 pm
by wyandottecaver
yep, AR. it would perch on a light (commercial cave entrance) then every so often swoop up and nab a bat or two.

Interesting your story about great horned owls and skunks. It actually sometimes seems great horned owls prefer them...mostly I think its just 2 nightime species likely to interact. Still, it's almost strange in a way.