Say Hello to California’s Official State Bat

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The pallid bat is now a Golden State symbol, along with the new state mushroom, the golden chanterelle.

Pallid bats are less than three inches long, but have a wingspan over fifteen inches. They eat tons of insects, including the highly venomous Arizona bark scorpion, providing free pest control. And they’re cute as heck, with huge ears. And they’re now the newest state symbol, a gold-colored bat for the Golden State. 

The campaign to name an official state bat was started by ecologist Dr. David Johnson, but really took off when 12-year-old San Fernando Valley bat advocate Naomi D’Alessio convinced Senator Caroline Menjivar to introduce S-732. Naomi testified before the state senate in June, “They are really amazing animals. They are immune to the venom of scorpions, one of their favorite meals. They are also one of the few bats in the world that are omnivores, as they also enjoy the fruits and nectar of cacti in California’s desert. … I also love them because they are so cute and fascinating with all their amazing adaptations. They can even live up to forty years, so the bats in my neighborhood have probably been patrolling the night sky above my backyard for longer than I’ve been alive. Unfortunately, bat populations are declining in California. I hope highlighting the pallid bat that lives in so many diverse habitats across the state will help awaken everyone to their beauty and value.”

“Unfortunately, bat populations are declining in California. I hope highlighting the pallid bat that lives in so many diverse habitats across the state will help awaken everyone to their beauty and value.”

– 12-year-old bat advocate Naomi D’Allessio

Pallid bats range throughout California, and contrary to myth, have very sharp eyesight. These unaggressive mammals nest in small groups of up to 100, and pallid bats in different parts of the state have developed distinct languages. Pallid bats eat a highly varied diet, with individual bats having favorite foods, including slugs. They hunt primarily right after dusk and just before dawn.

For batphobes, California also has a new official state mushroom, the golden chanterelle. Assemblyman Ash Kalra of San Jose wrote the bill on behalf of the California-endemic mushroom, and said in a statement. “The California golden chanterelle is an ideal fit, as it not only possesses an appropriate golden hue, but also thrives among the oak trees populating much of the state, enriching their root systems and the surrounding soil.” It is also reported to be delicious.

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close up of pair of golden chanterelles in moss
A pair of golden chanterelles. – Courtesy of Shutterstock

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Jim Miller
Jim Miller
Jim Miller, co-editor of Bluedot San Diego and Bluedot Santa Barbara, has been an environmental economist for over 25 years, in the private sector, academia, and the public service. He enjoys sharing his knowledge through freelance writing, and has been published in The Washington Post and Martha’s Vineyard magazine. He’s always loved nature and the outdoors, especially while on a bicycle.
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