Mention the word “bat” and people instantly conjure up images of blood thirsty flying monsters that live solely for the intent of entangling themselves within some innocent woman’s hair. Sound familiar? In fact, the opposite is true. These small mammals are incredibly beneficial to humans and to the world we live in. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you should give bats a second chance.
Unique, Different, Special. With over 1,200 unique species on record, bats are the second most diverse creature on the planet (beetles are the first). They are also the only mammal that flies; select species are capable of reaching top speeds of up to 50 miles per hour! The smallest in the world, the Bumblebee Bat, has a mere six inch wingspan whereas the largest, the Flying Fox has a gigantic six foot wingspan.
Insects Be Gone. Did you know that one insect eating bat can consume between 2,000 and 6,000 insects a night? I don’t know about you, but I could handle having a backyard without a constant mosquito infestation any day of the week. If this sounds like something you might enjoy as well, consider buying or building a bat house for your backyard. Instant insect control without all the harmful chemicals? What’s not to like?
I’ll Have a Margarita Please. Did you know that the Mexican Long Tongued Bat is responsible for the majority of pollination in agave plants? Without this species of pollinator we’d be drinking a lot less tequila on Cinco de Mayo. These unique mammals also play a crucial role in the pollination of over 500 tropical fruits including bananas, mangos and avocados.
Help for Stroke Victims. Did you ever imagine that a bat could help save a life? Well believe it. Research has shown that the saliva from a vampire bat can be beneficial in patients suffering from a stroke. The newly developed drug is fittingly named Draculin and, if administered within 9 hours of a stroke occurring, can effectively bust through a blood clot in the brain and help to limit potential internal damage to the victim.
We’re Not Blind, We Won’t Fly in Your Hair and We Rarely Carry Disease. Finally, let’s debunk a few common myths surrounding bats. Contrary to what you may have heard they are not blind. The majority can see as well as we do and some species can even see in low light, similar to cats. Trust me when I tell you that they do NOT want to fly into your hair. Insect eating bats are actually equipped with sonar that makes them incredibly agile in the air. If they’re aiming for your head, chances are they’ve spotted a particularly juicy bug for dinner and not your hair sprayed quaff. Lastly, many people have a fear that these night time fliers carry rabies. In reality, less than one percent of all bats contract the virus and won't pass it on to you unless you choose to pick one up and it happens to bite you. Bottom line: don’t touch the bat and you will not have a problem.
Bats are a truly amazing species on the planet that are not only unique in their physical traits but also beneficial in a multitude of important ways. The next time you see a bat when you’re out and about, share your new found knowledge with friends and help to better educate others on why bats should be treasured instead of feared.