Sweet, Ambiguous Chiroptera

Quick, what is this?


Hint:
Upside down: Cute and adorable



Hint: Right side up: Disgusting and creepy

Few creatures on this earth suffer from the bad press bats receive. Why? Bats have long been associated with witchcraft, black magic and darkness. I aim to change this. So let's talk about some of the misconceptions or skewed perceptions connected to bats.

Bats = Vampires. So, a few bats incorporate blood into their diets. Lions, tigers, wolves, and dare I say it, some monkeys aren't vegetarians and yet they enjoy great popularity. In fact of the over 1200 species of bats, there are three that consume blood exclusively as their diet. Three out of 1200 is exceedingly low. Of the big cats out there, what percentage of the various species consume blood? One hundred percent because felines cannot be vegetarian and live.

Did you know, in mythology, vampires can shape shift into wolf form as well?



Relaxing!

When it comes to diet, almost three-fourths of the world’s bats are insect eaters. Insects consumed by bats include both aerial insects, and ground-dwelling insects. Each bat is typically able to consume one third of its body weight in insects each night, and several hundred insects in a few hours. This means that a group of one thousand bats could eat four tons of insects each year. If bats were to become extinct, the insect population is calculated to reach an alarmingly high number.

If I were to ask myself what I prefer, relaxing under a night sky populated by bats or filled with clouds of swarming, stinging mosquitoes, that would be a no brainer.




But they're just so ugly



Vomit!!



Frightening Honduran White Bat



Beware, brushing bats is the number one cause of injuries
needing emergency care on Saturday mornings.



Cuuuute!!!! Not.

Lots of animals have family members that lost the gene pool for beauty. How about those famous ugly dogs. And when you think about it, what besides companionship do dogs actually contribute to our lives? I'm not minimizing companionship but I'm also not seeing dogs doing their part to eliminate the annoying insect population. You have service dogs who are trained to help humans who need assistance but percentage wise, few dogs do anything actually practical or constructive.

Bats - disease. Bats carry rabies. So do monkeys, raccoons, foxes, wolves, coyotes, dogs and cats. In fact any warmblooded mammal can be infected and pose a threat to humans. Bats occasionally carry fleas but are one of the few mammilian orders unable to support a community of lice.

Other things bats contribute

Macrobats like the large fruit bats love to eat ripe fruits. As the seeds pass through them, they spread them all over the forest. A fruit bat can disperse thousands of seeds to help replant the forests that they live in.

There are many bats that live on the nectar from the flower of plants. There are some flowers that only bloom at night and the bat is the only animal that assists in the pollination of these plants. Cactus like the Agave are an example. Blue Agave is where we get tequila.

Bananas, avocados, dates, figs, peaches, mangoes, cloves, cashews, and agave are other trees that all benefit from bats as they pollinate or spread their seeds.

Besides eating harmful insects and pollinating plants, bat guano is actually a very beneficial fertilizer. It is so strong that people who collect it have to wear gas masks and protective clothing. Farmers benefit greatly as guano is the best fertilizer.

People also are finding that Vampire bats contain a blood thinning chemical that can help stroke victims and others that need it. Also their ability to use echolocation is very interesting as we research to learn how it works and how it may benefit humans.

Wild bats, like any wild animal, must be respected and treated as a wild animal. I'm not suggesting that we go out and adopt wild bats. They do carry disease and unhealthy bacteria in their droppings (guano). I'm just suggesting that this is no reason to hate them. All wild animals carry disease. Not all wild animals are hated just for being what they are.

The benefits that bats provide should have ameliorated their bad press a long time ago. Think about this the next time you hear about a monkey eating someone's face off.

4 comments:

A-Gran said...

Fascinating as always. Personally, I think the little bat faces are cute. Wouldn't want to see one up close but there's a certain charm to their little pig faces.

iambriezy said...

Bats are all fun and games until you find one hanging in the middle of your living room.

Frimmy said...

Too true Briezy. I'm all about showing bats love but if I found one hanging in my house I would have a fit. But I'd have a fit if a big spider was hanging around too.

Mike Cole said...

I want one!!

 

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