Bat Facts

June 2019

Photo of rangerBy Ranger Elizabeth

There are many mis­con­cep­tions about bats and these make many people afraid of them. But there is no reason to fear these little flying mam­mals. Bats are super bene­ficial for us! They help pollinate many kinds of plants, including our crops, and they eat tons of insects every year that would other­wise eat us.

Bat Misconceptions

Woman holding a bat while standing in a caveLet’s look at some of these common misconceptions and find out the truth!

Bats are blind

Bats can see just fine, and some larger bats can even see three times better than we can.

Many bats use echolocation to find their way around and to help them find juicy insects. When bats echo­lo­cate, they send out a series of clicks that bounce off nearby objects. The returning sounds gives them an “image” of what is around them, so they know if it’s a tree or a tasty snack.

They may swoop in close occasionally to get a better look at things, but they won’t fly into your hair.

Bats are flying rats/mice

While bats are mammals, they are not flying rats. Many bats are small like mice, but their behaviors and lifestyle are com­pletely different. In fact, bats are more closely related to us than they are to rats and mice.

Actual rodents like to gnaw on things they find to keep their teeth nice and sharp, but bats don’t need to gnaw on anything. Ro­dents also tend to have large litters and live for only a few years. Bats tend to have one or two pups, and some can live up to 35 years.

Bats want to drink your blood

Bats don’t want to drink your blood. Out of the over 1,300 species of bats, only three species drink blood, and only one of those targets mammals. These species live in Latin America, and very rarely target humans. The anticoagulant found in their saliva keeps blood from clotting and is used in medicine to help prevent strokes.

Bats will attack you and give you rabies

Close-up of batA bat will never at­tack you or at­tempt to bite you un­less you are trying to handle it or hurt it. Bats can, just like any other mam­mal, be infected with rabies, but they contract rabies much less fre­quently than other mammals.

Bats with rabies often become para­lyzed and can’t fly, and do not show the same signs of aggression that other mammals tend to show with rabies.

Remember, never handle a bat, espe­cially if it is on the ground and behaving strangely. Call your local animal control if you have any concerns about a bat.

Bats are pests

Bats are quite helpful to us in many ways!

Every night, a single bat can eat up to 8,000 insects. Eating all those bugs can save us up to $53 billion a year on pesticides.

They are also key pollinators for over 300 species of plants, includ­ing mangoes, bananas, guavas, and agave. Not only do they pollinate these plants, they help dis­perse their seeds in their guano, some­times hundreds of kilometers away.

Bat guano is an excellent fertilizer and fungicide. It can even help speed up the decomposition process for composting.

Bats: Better than Batman

We hope this article helped clear up your bat misconceptions. If you would like to learn more about bats, join us Thursday, July 13, 2019, at 8 p.m. for Bats: Better than Batman.