06 October 2015

Did You Know...? Part 13

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Of the 34 species of bat (les chauves-souris) found in France, 30 of them can be observed (right place, right time) in the Rhône-Alpes region.

The Rhône-Alpes region contains 8 départements — Ain, Ardèche, Drôme, Haute-Savoie, Isère, Loire, Rhône and Savoie — all of which offer the bats a rich variety of habitat of mountains, river basins, hills and plains, and a Mediterranean zone.

All species of bat living in Europe today are insectivores, meaning they help regulate insect population, everything from the smallest mosquito to the larger grasshoppers and June bugs.

In France, all species of bat are protected. What's threatening them? Human activity mostly, i.e. urban sprawl, loss of natural habitat, light pollution, wind turbines, etc.

So the next time you are in the Rhône-Alpes region and it's dusk, look up. You just might catch a glimpse of a winged shadow darting above your head, the ancestors of which flew through the same air 55 million years ago.

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And if you want to know more about bats, check out the book "Les chauves-souris de Rhône-Alpes" (Bats of the Rhône-Alpes) published by La Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux Coordination Rhône-Alpes (LPO Rhône-Alpes).

It's a beautifully illustrated, 480 page work (in French only) that, if you manage to read it all, will make you a living expert in the only mammal to have conquered flight like birds.

Any detailed information about bats cited above, which I certainly did not know before, came from this source:
Groupe Chiropètres de la LPO Rhône-Alpes (2014), Les chauves-souris de Rhône-Alpes, LPO Rhône-Alpes, Lyon, 480 p.

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