Bats Aren’t That Scary

Little Brown Bat with wings extended

Bats Aren’t That Scary

It’s International Bat Week and we’re here to tell you why bats matter. These nocturnal creatures are feared by many, but bats aren’t that scary (yes, the first letter of each word spells bats). Where do these misconceptions or myths about bats come from? Let’s take a look.

Bats are weird critters. They’re mostly active at night, they’re small and shy and they’re paradoxical. They are mammals (have fur and teeth) but they also fly like birds. They’re a bit mysterious, which makes people wary of them.

Myth 1: Relate bats to vampires

There are vampire bats, but the monsters or man-shaped vampires were known in myths and legends many many years ago. Vampire bats actually live in Latin America, and they don’t suck blood per se. They have sharp teeth that they use to feed on livestock. They make an incision and lap up blood from the animal.

Myth 2: Bats are dirty/associated with rabies

Bats are actually clean animals. They groom themselves, similar to how cats do.
According to many studies, less than 1% of bats have rabies. However, we do not recommend handling bats, as with any wild animal.

Myth 3: Bats will attack or get stuck in hair

This myth was most likely told to keep women from going outside at night. This comes from people getting caught in the middle of bat buffets. There are places that attract many insects, like lakes or pools, and bats love to eat bugs. If a person happens to be near these types of environments at night, they are more likely to see heavy bat activity because they feast there at night.

Why do bats matter?

Bats are vital to our environment and our economy. Little brown bats, native to Ohio, can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in one hour. Each year these bats save more than $1 million on pest control. This is great for humans and for crops and our ecosystem. We also have bats that eat fruit and pollinate. In southern states, there are bats that pollinate mangoes, bananas and agave.

What is happening to our bat population?

Unfortunately, lots of our bat populations are declining due to habitat loss and disease.

How can you help bats?

  1. Build a bat house. If you don’t want bats to roost in your barn, you can build a bat house and provide a nest for them.
  2. To help lessen the spread of disease/fungus from bat to bat, if you visit a cave where bats live, be sure to disinfect everything on you (including your shoes) as to not bring that disease to other areas with a bat presence.
  3. Do not disturb bats during their hibernation if visiting caves or other areas where bats live.
  4. Word of mouth. Tell people in your circle how they can help bats.
  5. Plant a garden and do not use insecticide. This helps keep food supply for bats.