Friday, November 16, 2012

Blind As A Bat You Say

Most people really do believe bats are blind and see only by the use of echolocation. No blame here, we all learn these myths via many misconceptions that became reinforced through stories, the film industry, various mythologies, and prejudices.

First of all, bats are the only mammals that truly fly, rather than just gliding like the “Flying Squirrel”. The use of echolocation helps them locate insects to eat while in flight.

What is the origin of the idiom-as blind as a bat? Bats have very sensitive eyes that are pretty much useless if they try to see anything in daylight. This misunderstanding leads people to think that bats have very bad vision.

Active only during the night hours has associated bats with various dangers and fears of darkness, such as the blood-sucking Dracula.
Dracula dates back to 1922, when the first silent film version of Nosferatu, i.e. Dracula was viewed by the public and became the first stereotype of a human blood-sucking demon. These emotional and disturbing images have become embedded in our brains as fears associated with our bats.

As well, another misconception is the preconceived notion that all bats are “Vampire” bats.
How are vampire bats different from other bats? Vampire bats don’t’ suck blood. They use heat sensors to find the veins, their sharp teeth cut the skin and the bat simply laps up what oozes out. Other bats have sharp teeth but not sharp enough to bite people and animals. Only three species of bats, “Vampire Bats”, found from Mexico to South America, eat the blood of mammals or birds, often domestic animals like cows, and not humans.  Many bats eat fruit, pollen, nectar, insects and even fish.

Although, bats may occasionally fly very close to a persons face while hunting for insects; they do not get stuck in the hair.

In the United States from 1995 through 2009, an average of two people per year have died of rabies associated with bats. Be smart and don’t approach any wild animal, period.

Lastly, we need to familiarize ourselves with facts before our bat population is destroyed. Bats are essential to the health of our natural world. They help control pests and are vital pollinators and seed-dispersers for countless plants. They need our help and our support.

Author: Linda Danielson
CWRTR Chair/President
Mobile: 612-269-5926