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Bat

The Scoop

Don’t be afraid, bats are our friends

Bats are nothing to be scared about! They have a bad reputation, thanks to scary movies, books and TV shows that aren’t real.

Here’s what’s real about bats: They do a tremendous amount of good things for humans and for the environment in general.

A typical bat can eat hundreds of mosquitoes or other small insects in a single night. A colony of bats — they almost always live together, often in groups of hundreds to even a thousand — can eat hundreds of thousands of insects every night. That’s a lot of human pests that are eliminated, thanks to bats.

Bats also are extremely important to many kinds of plants. They help spread seeds and pollen, allowing plants to reproduce and thrive. And the same insects that can be a pest to humans also can be harmful to plants. Less pests means healthier plants.

There are dozens of different breeds of bats in the world, with nearly 50 found in the United States. Larger breeds of bats eat fruit, nectar or pollen, while smaller breeds — which count for more than two-thirds of all bats — eat insects. Only a couple breeds of bats will eat small animals — and no breed of bat is a threat to humans.

A few other facts about bats:

  • A bat’s wing is very similar in bone structure to a human hand. The webbed skin that connects these bones and the rest of the body allows bats to fly.
  • Most bats hunt for food at night using echolocation (like dolphins), which is similar to radar. They emit high-pitched sounds, then are able to analyze “echos” that bounce back to them to determine location of prey.
  • Bats hang upside down to sleep because their lightweight bones are not strong enough to support their body weight sitting upright.
  • Bats will roost anywhere that offers shelter from elements, but particularly like caves, trees and barns.

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