June 23, 2010
Most people do not know much about bats and often times what they think they know is not factual. Myths about bats have existed for centuries and are continuously perpetuated by gossip, and within the last century, the Hollywood movie industry. Some of the myths about bats are based on assumptions while others are exaggerated truths. Let’s explore and distinguish the bat myths from facts.
All bats have rabies
Myth. One half of one percent of bats carry the rabies virus. Unlike other animals (e.g. dogs and cats), when a bat is infected with rabies it usually does not become aggressive. Often times it will grow weak and die fairly quickly. The rapid death of an infected bat greatly limits the spread among other bats. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, only 40 people have contracted rabies from bats within the last 40 years.
Bats are blind
Myth. Bats are born blind, however, once they become adults they are able to see rather well. Most bats are actually colorblind.
Bats are rodents or birds
Myth. Bats are not rodents or birds. They are part of the order of Chiroptera and are the only mammal that has the ability to fly.
All bats are blood suckers
Myth. Of the 950 bat species worldwide, three suck on blood. Bats that consume blood are called Vampire bats and are only located in Latin America. Contrary to popular belief they do not seek out human blood but rather feed on livestock.
Bats are attracted to hair
Myth. Bats are not attracted to hair. Bats actually try to avoid humans as much as possible. If a bat gets close to a human, it is usually because there are swarms of insects surrounding them. The threat of a bat diving into your hair is extremely minimal. This is because bats use echolocation which is so extraordinary it can actually detect objects as fine as a human hair!
Bats have dozens of babies each year
Myth. Bats have only one or two pups each year.
Bats are extremely filthy
Myth. Bats are actually quite clean. They are known to groom themselves about as often as house cats.