To begin, what is a Mammal?
A Mammal is an Animal that is a hairy,
vertebrate (has a backbone) that breathes
air, gives birth live,
and the female of the species nurses its
The Gray Bat was, like many others, on the road to extinction
in the South until a young man from Tennessee began
what would become a lifetime of dedication to
studying, saving and protecting them.
This man's passion and devotion would lead
to him reporting his findings to the authorities,
who at his request in 1976, added the Gray Bat to
the Endangered Species List.
The actions taken by one man nearly single handedly saved
Imagine that, one person making a difference in the
of a remarkable creature whose daily diet should be
enough for us to honor it until the end of time.
One single Bat can eat up to 4,500 insects per day.
Can you name another such animal?
The savior of this maligned and misunderstood Mammal is
Dr. Merlin Tuttle and his life's work is almost as
as the tiny creature he has devoted himself to protecting.
The stories of their intertwined lives is here:
of Bats and Science
Unlike other Bats, the Gray Bat,
with a few exceptions, lives in large
colonies in Limestone Caves all year long.
In Florida, the Endangered Gray Bats are found
only in the Caves near Mariana in the panhandle.
Most Bats nest in Caves with close proximity to water.
A Gray Bat
Photo credit: Jerry A. Payne/USDA
Gray Bats can eat up to 4,500 insects in one night,
their diet consisting primarily of mayflies,
mosquitoes and other assorted insects.
Bats usually sleep during the day and
eat at night, mostly over water.
They weigh between 8-11 grams and
have a 10-12 inch wingspan.
Their average lifespan is about 14-15 years.
As seen below, the wings of the
Gray Bat are translucent.
Human destruction or damage to Bat Caves as well
as the overuse of chemicals in and around their
nesting Caves are contributing to their decline.
Another major problem is pesticide runoff
into the waters where they feed daily.
Their numbers were dropping so rapidly,
that in 1976, Gray Bats were added to the
Endangered Species List (ESA).