By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. Jared Polis signed an official declaration naming this Colorado Bat Week. The often misunderstood mammals may be a little spooky, but are beneficial to our ecosystem.

Gov. Polis declared Colorado Bat Week to recognize the mammal and its contribution to our ecosystem.

Gov. Polis declared Colorado Bat Week to recognize the mammal and its contribution to our ecosystem. (credit: CBS)

“We have 18 species of native bats in Colorado,” said Denver Zookeeper Aleksi Saunders.

He suggests popular culture is perhaps upside-down when it comes to Colorado’s bats.

“Small brown bats can eat up to 600 mosquitoes an hour, so 60 per minute which is just amazing,” said Saunders.

He said the small mammals primarily eat insects—and play a big role in our ecosystem.

“They have a huge impact on crops, pollination and insect control and so they’re highly beneficial,” said Saunders.

Vampire Bats – found mainly in central and south America – do seem a perfect Halloween mascot.

“They go out every night looking for a blood meal much like mosquitoes.,” said Saunders.

Their meal of choice is livestock.

“They’ll give the cow a little shave and then they’ll bite that vein or artery that’s close to the surface to take a drink,” said Saunders.

Aleksi hopes we can use Colorado Bat Week as an opportunity to learn and appreciate these creatures of the night.

“Don’t be afraid of bats, be very interested in bats,” said Saunders. “They’re a marvelous creature, they’re a mammal that’s adapted to a particular niche in their environment and they do their job tremendously.”

Colorado Bat Week runs through Halloween.

Joel Hillan

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