Bats can find their food in total darkness. They locate insects through echolocation, emitting inaudible high pitched sounds and listening to echoes. Bats also have excellent vision, is there’s no such thing as “blind as a bat”
Most bats have only one pup a year, making them extremely vulnerable to extinction. Bat mothers can find their babies among thousands or millions of other bats by their unique voices and scents.
Bat droppings, called guano, are one of the richest fertilizers, although inhalation of it’s dust is dangerous so use caution. Bat guano was once a big business. In fact, guano was Texas’s largest mineral export before oil
A single bat can catch 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour, and many garden pests avoid areas where they hear bats echolocating. Research suggests that bats save American farmers more than $22 billion in pest control each year.
Bats are vital pollinators and seed dispersers. They ensure the survival of hundreds of species of economically and ecologically important plants, including sources of fruits, nuts, medicines, timber, fibers and dyes. Oh and agave! If it wasn’t for bats, we wouldn’t have tequila.
Bats are the only mammals able to fly and are quite talented at aerial acrobatics. Their wings are thin, giving them what is called, in flight terms “airfoil.” The power bats have to push forward is called “propulsion.”
Some bats can survive in freezing temperatures and even fly in the middle of blizzards. During hibernation, their breathing slows down until it’s imperceptible and their heart rate drops to just 25 beats per minute, compared to roughly 400 beats per minute when they are awake.
Rabies transmission from bats to humans is rare, just 1-2 cases per years in the U.S and Canada combined. Just always remember, bats aren’t pets and you should never handle them. Media stories grossly exaggerating risks of disease from bats are promoted by those who profit from public fear.
Artwork by John Small