Bats are often associated with Halloween. There are a number of theories as to how this association began, but it’s likely that one of the reasons for their enduring tie to the holiday is the fact that many people suffer from chiroptophobia (the fear of bats). This fear is often based on some of the misconceptions about bats.
According to National Geographic, the scariest thing about bats is the rate at which they are disappearing.
In fact, bats are beneficial. Around 70 percent of the world’s bats eat insects, making them invaluable partners in human agriculture by removing crop pests. The rest eat nectar and fruit and serve as pollinators and seed dispersers.
In honor of Halloween, here are a few interesting facts about bats from the Florida Bat Conservancy:
- Bats are the only mammal that can truly fly.
- Bats belong to a scientific group or order called “Chiroptera,” which means “hand wing.”
- Bats literally fly with their hands! Their wings are like our hands, but with longer fingers and a thin, but tough, membrane (skin) between the fingers.
- There are over 1,000 species of bats.
- The largest bat in the world is the Malayan flying fox, which can have a wing span of over 6 feet!
- The smallest bat is the Bumblebee bat of Thailand, which weighs less than a penny.
- Bats are not blind, but in addition to sight, many species use “echolocation” to navigate and catch insects in total darkness.
- One bat can devour up to 3,000 insects in a night!
- In the tropics, fruit and nectar feeding bats play a vital role in the survival and re-growth of the rainforests.
- There are no Vampire bats in the United States. They are only found in southern Mexico, Central and South America.
- Less than one percent of bats contract rabies and when they do they usually die within three or four days.
- Although bats do not become aggressive, they can end up on the ground or someplace they do not belong and if handled may bite in self defense and transmit the disease. So never handle a wild bat with your bare hands and make sure your pet’s vaccinations are current.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!