Bats are very important mammals. Many are so important that without them, thousands of plants and other animal species could die out, threatening entire ecosystems. There are now more than 1000 species of bats in the world and they make up 25% of all mammal species.
Many people believe bats are blind flying mice, carry disease, and become entangled in women's hair. Actually bats are more closely related to people than to mice. No bat is blind. Some species of bats have better eyesight than others, but the ones with poorer eyesight use echolocation. Echolocation is a capacity to perceive based on a reaction to a reflected sound wave (or echo). Contrary to popular belief, bats are no more likely to carry rabies than raccoons, skunks, squirrels, or foxes. The same rule of thumb applies to bats as to these other wildlife; don't pick them up, and you will have little to fear.
The young are born and reared totally in "Bat Fashion" - the hanging posture. Fortunately, during delivery, many mother bats will turn horizontally to give their young a fighting chance. In addition, the strong umbilical cord functions as a "safety line" to prevent falling. The young are usually born tail first, but occasionally emerge head first.
The contributions bats make to the quality of life on earth and to the welfare of humans are many. Several species of bats are important predators of swarming night-flying insects like mosquitoes! For example, a single little brown bat, one of North America's most abundant species, is capable of consuming more than 600 mosquitoes an hour. Many of the world's most economically important plants rely on bats and cultivated crop plants still rely on bats for their survival in the wild. These include bananas, plantain, breadfruit, avocadoes, dates, figs peaches, and mangoes. Other bat-dependent products include cloves, cashews, carob, balsa wood, kapok filler for life preservers, and tequila, which comes from agaves. In the United States, nearly 40% of our 43 bat species are on the endangered list or are threatened species. Vandalism and repeated disturbance in roosting caves is a primary cause. Through education, we are only now starting to change the beliefs in popular myth and false perceptions.
Living with Bats:
Look & enjoy, but don't touch!
are wild animals and normally avoid contact.
that can be approached on the ground or other exposed places are sick.
small number of bats are infected with the rabies virus.
is a fatal disease if left untreated.
is transmitted most frequently through the saliva of an infected animal when
it bites into the skin of a person or other animal.
should never directly handle a bat due to risk of contacting rabies.
bats are non aggressive, you need only leave them alone to be safe.
Anyone bitten by a bat or other wild animal should call the City Health Department and seek medical attention immediately.
What To Do If You Encounter a Bat
you encounter a bat, dead or alive, the most important thing to remember is:
Don't touch it.
the bat is alive and near or on the ground where people or pets may find it,
call the Health Department,
the bat is dead and located where curious children or pets may find it,
scoop the bat into a sealable container such as a coffee can, cover and tape
container and dispose in the trash.
If the bat is dead and there is no chance that people or other animals will make contact with it, leave the bat where it is.
Please don't touch the
Bats are wild animals.
Bats are shy of people.
If you can touch a bat, it's probably sick.
Some bats have rabies.
To Learn More about Bats:
To learn more about bats, visit the World Wide Web Page.
Bat Conservation International