Besides gobbling candy, Halloween is about embracing all things scary, bloody, creepy, and gross. All Hallows' Eve is also a terrific time to separate fact from fiction as far as bats are concerned. So I'm jumping on the bandwagon with Bat Conservation International (BCI) to bust some myths about the only flying mammals—bats! BCI is a fantastic group full of hard-working conservationists, wildlife biologists, and cave experts. We featured the work of a number of BCI folks in our book, The Bat Scientists, which is newly updated and recently released in paperback.
The book features a list of commonly misunderstood facts about bats that have become a big part of the Batty Science presentations I give at schools and other venues. The Six Batty Myths are:
• Bats are NOT blind. All bats have eyes and can see quite well.
• Most bats do NOT have rabies. Like any wild animal, bats should not be touched, especially one found on the ground that is more likely to be sick. However, getting rabies from bats is very rare.
• Bats do NOT get tangled in people’s hair. Bats are too good at flying for that, plus they generally avoid humans.
• Bats do NOT suck blood. Not even the three species of vampire bats that live in Central and South America suck blood. They lap it up with their tiny tongues. No vampire bats live in the United States, except in zoos.
• Bats are NOT flying mice. DNA evidence shows that bats are not closely related to rodents. Some scientists believe they are more like primitive primates.
• Bats are NOT pests in need of extermination. Bats can be safely removed from an attic or home without harming them. Bats are important pest controllers, often eating their own weight in pest insects every night.