Bats Blind

Are Bats Really Blind As They Say?

Does the thought of bats give you a creepy feeling? Perhaps a few facts about bats will endear them to you.

Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera and can live as long as 20 years or more. Bats are the only mammals that can fly. As Volume I of "Mammals of the World" says, "Bats are the only mammals that fly, although several gliding mammals are referred to as 'flying.'" Bats wings are made of thin skin that stretches from the front limbs along each side of their bodies to their hind legs. The skin runs between their four fingers and thumb.

Most are familiar with the fact that bats hang upside-down by their feet. Most think of them as living in caves. But they also roost in trees, buildings, temples, tombs, pyramids, vacant bird nests and of course, towers and church steeples.

What do bats eat? Some eat insects which helps control the insect population. So if you are like me and find a dead bat in your driveway, be glad that bats are living in your neighborhood. They may be making it more enjoyable for you to be outside! Other bats eat pollen and nectar. So bats may well be helping to pollinate your flowers. There are also fruit-eating bats. Some bats eat lizards, frogs, small mammals and birds. Believe it or not, some bats even eat fish.

Bat manure is called guano. It is used for fertilizer.

Have you ever heard the expression "Blind as a bat"? Actually, bats are not blind at all. I had heard that bats use sonar to fly and not run into anything in the dark. Really, bats use something called "echolocation" to get around in the dark. As they fly around, they let out squeaks and sounds that vibrate at such high levels that most sounds cannot be heard by humans. Their ear muscles contract for a moment after they make their sound so that they hear the echo that bounces off any object in their path. Amazingly, they can fly very well without running into anything even in the pitch dark.

Do you think bats are dirty? Perhaps you have seen cats groom themselves. Bats do much the same using their tongue and toes.

Since bats are so "clean", you might consider them for a meal. In some places of the world, such as Norhern India, bats are part of the menu. Maybe after a taste you would say, "Hmm. Tastes like chicken." The bats, however, are not too crazy about the idea of being eaten.

Some bats hibernate in caves or similar places while others migrate to areas where they can find food.

And no article about bats would be complete without the mention of vampire bats. Yes, they do exist mostly in the tropical and subtropical regions of America. Yes, they do feed on blood and yes, sometimes on sleeping humans. Their teeth are so sharp that when they bite a sleeping animal or human, their victim seldom wakes up. The vampire bat then drinks his fill of blood for about 20 minutes. The danger of this is that bats can transmit diseases such as rabies not to mention the chance of infection from the wound.

So now, do you feel a little better at the thought of bats?


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