See how I tricked you into reading about one of my favorite animals, bats. No, don’t stop reading, please! If you continue to the end, I have a gift for you.
Bat populations are declining worldwide, mostly due to myths and misconceptions. Over half the bats in the US are listed as rare, threatened, or endangered.
Months and months ago, Darling Daughter 2 and I attended a seminar on bats at Weston Gardens in Fort Worth. Dottie Hyatt, Vice-President of Bat World in Mineral Wells, Texas (www.batworld.org) brought several bats and lots of information. Darling Daughter and I learned so much cool stuff that I’m going to share some of it with you.
|Amanda Lollar, Bat World|
founder, and a friend
In 1994, Amanda Lollar officially founded Bat World Sanctuary, the organization’s first sanctuary for non-releasable bats. For two years previous to that, she had been working to save bats and had sold everything she owned to purchase a building to house them. She has since become an internationally recognized expert on bats.
Here are some facts that Dottie Hyatt shared about bats and Bat World:
1. Bats are an integral part of most ecosystems, yet they are the most misunderstood animal on earth. Only through education can we change ecological devastation going forward. Bats are the greatest pesticide available to mankind.
2. There are over 1100 species of bats in the world and only three are vampire bats, limited for the most part to Latin America. Vampire bats are very small and do NOT attack humans. They prefer to get their teaspoon-sized meals from other animals. The remaining 1097 bat species eat insects, fruit, nectar, and pollen. A few species eat fish and frogs. Insect-eating bats eat billions of tons of insects each summer. They protect our crops and keep costs down at the marketplace. Fruit bats bring us over 450 commercial products and 80 medicines through pollination and seed dispersal. Over 95% of rainforest regrowth comes from seeds that have been spread by fruit bats.
3. Bats don’t carry rabies. They are capable of catching the disease just like any other mammal. In reality, more people die annually from contact with household pets than have died with contact from bats in all of recorded history. Misconceptions about bats are due in part to Hallowe’en lore that presents them as scary, blood-sucking creatures that carry rabies. In fact, less than one-half of one percent of bats contract rabies. This doesn’t mean it’s okay to touch or handle bats. They may be afraid and bite in self-defense. Bats are wild animals and all wild animals can be dangerous. Grounded bats are more likely to be sick and should never be rescued bare-handed.
4. One bat can eat up to 5,000 mosquitoes in a 24-hour period! The little animals are very vulnerable to chemicals, however, because they groom themselve fastidiously. If you spray for mosquitoes and other insects, you are likely to also kill bats and prevent them from acting as living pesticide and pollinators.
|By Phil Myers, Museum of|
Zoology, Univ. of Michigan,
shows above right the likeness
of bat wing to human arm/hand
6. Bats are not flying mice. They are not even remotely related to rodents. In fact, they are built more like a human, and their wing bones are like those of a hand and arm. They are so unique that scientists placed them in a group of their own, Chiroptera, which means hand-wing.
|Bats compared to |
man and birds
7. Bats are not blind. Most bats see as well as humans. Fruit bats also have eyesight adapted to low light, much like cats, and many see in color. Numerous bats also use echolocation to catch insects and fly at night.
8. Bats are shy, gentle, and highly intelligent. They are among the slowest reproducing animals on earth. Most bat species have only one live young per year. The average life span of a bat is 25 to 40 years!
9. Bat guano (poop) is the highest nutrient fertilizer available. You can buy it from your plant nursery or from Bat World. Diluted with water, it provides beneficial fertilizer, or it can be spread undiluted on flower beds. According to Dottie Hyatt of Bat World, guano will not burn plants.
10. Bats don't try to tangle themselves in a human's hair. If a bat swoops nearby, no doubt he's after a mosquito buzzing near the hair. Mosquitoes love hairspray and perfume, and bats love mosquitoes. To get a human's attention, a bat circles in a narrowing arc until it brushes the human's shoulder.
|Golden crowned fruit|
bat ready for sleep
At rest, after grooming itself, the bat folds its wings around it to sleep.
Hundreds of bats from around the world have found permanent refuge at Bat World's indoor, natural habitat facility. These non-releasable bats include those that have been used in research, retired from zoos, orphaned, permanently injured or confiscated from the exotic pet trade.
Bat World is located in Mineral Wells, Texas and serves as headquarters for the organization. Aside from this initial facility, Bat World has established 17 rescue centers across the US. Bat World Sanctuary has been featured on television programs on the Discovery Channel, 20/20 Downtown, Animal Planet, Nickelodeon, the CBS Early Show and Late Night with David Letterman
|What a cute guy!|
Darling Daughter One gave me a bat box and Hero mounted it on a pole. Instructions for building a bat box are available online from the National Wildlife Federation or Bats Northwest. You can purchase the bat house already built the Organization for Bat Conservation. The house must be mounted at least ten feet from the ground to give the residents distance to swoop. Bats don’t take off from the ground, but drop to begin their flight.
Since you've stuck with me this far, let me know which of my Kindle or Smashwords books you'd like and your email in a comment and I'll send you a pdf of that book.