Understanding Bats

Understanding Bats

A Guide To Understanding The Most

Misunderstood Animal In The World

Having co-existed with bats for many years, I have come to understand that the main problem existing between humans and bats are humans, or at least their lack of understanding towards one of natures most beautiful creatures.

The safest way for most people to handle a bat is not to. Many people panic, and that doesn't do any good for the bat or the person. If you must handle a bat, use caution, and common sense. I must capture many bats in my house throughout the summer months.

Here are some pointers:

1. If the bat is in flight, open a door, and turn off the lights. Give the animal a chance to leave on it's own first. This is important. Often times a bat will just fly out the door to escape, saving anyone the chore of capturing it. So, this is the best method where applicable.

2. Wear gloves, always. Never handle a bat with bare hands. Bats are wild animals, and they are naturally frightened of humans and could bite as a result.

3. If the bat does not leave, and is in flight, wait until it lands if possible, then approach with a fine mesh net, or towel. Quickly, and most important, gently wrap the bat with the towel, or place the net over the bat. Carefully pick it up, and take it outside for release, once again, while wearing gloves.

Myths and Facts:

1. Bats will not purposely entangle themselves in the hair of anyone. This old wive's tale has caused the death of many a bat unnecessarily.

2. Bats almost never attack people. Bats don't want to be around people, they are wild animals, and like all wild animals, they should be left alone.

3. Rabies...the most misunderstood fact there is. First of all, bats do not carry rabies. You have a better chance of catching rabies from your pet dog than from a bat. Do bats get rabies? They sure do. Are claims of rabid bats grossly exaggerated? They surely are. Has anyone ever died from a rabid bat bite? Yes, but this is extremely rare. If you wake up, and there is a bat flying around, then it is a safe idea to capture it, and call your local health board officials and have it killed and tested, because you may have been bitten while sleeping, although that is highly unlikely. Do not squash it, especially the head, or accurate testing may not be possible, and then rabies shots are likely. Always...safety first.

4. Reproduction. How many think bats reproduce like rats? Hands up folks... Fact is, bats produce only ONE pup per breeding season. This fact alone should help us all understand how bats can be so endangered.

5. Bats see very well. They are not blind. They also have the best radar there is, courtesy of Mother Nature. They use an echo system, and can turn on a dime. That is why they don't hit anything.

6. Pollination and seeds. Bats are responsible for pollination the world over. They are also very good at dispersing seeds throughout the ecosystem, helping the entire planet.

7. Insects. Bats eat a lot of insects. Without bats, we would need to use more pesticides, further polluting our groundwater and lands. Bats eat tons of mosquitoes. Considering that the West Nile Virus has now spread as far north as New York City, we should all be doing whatever we can to help bats, as they can help us avoid this nasty, deadly virus, just by doing what they do best, as nature intended.

So, these are only a few reasons why we should protect bats the world over.

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