Workers for the Hagensieck brewery created these cave openings around 1867 using picks, shovels and blasting powder. They used the caves to store ice and beer until the brewery closed in 1888. Hundreds of bats used the caves until 1986, when the entrances were sealed for public safety. An entrance was reopened for bats in 1998.
A Bad Rap
Myths and superstitions have given bats a bad reputation. But most bats are harmless and less than 1/2 of 1% carry rabies. Bats are the major predator of night-flying insects; a single bat can eat about 1,200 insects in an hour. Using ultrasonic signals to locate prey, navigate, and communicate, bats have mastered the night sky.
More than 900 species of bats occur worldwide, 45 of which live in the continental United States. Due to the loss of habitat and human disturbance and destruction, over half of the U.S. bats are endangered or species of concern. Bats known to inhabit caves like these include little brown bats, big brown bats, eastern pipistrelles, and even endangered Indiana bats.
Bat artwork reprinted with permission from Bat Conservation International and the University of Missouri Press.