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Why You Should Like Bats!
- Bats play a critical role in controlling
insect pests and are natural enemies of
night-flying insects around the world. A
single little brown bat can catch more than
1,000 mosquito sized insects in one hour.
- lf we lose our bat species, we increase
the demand for chemical pesticides,
jeopardizing whole ecosystems of other
animal and plant species, and harming human
- Bats pollinate plants and disperse
seeds. More than 300 plant species in the
Old World tropics alone rely on the
pollinating and seed dispersal services of
bats, and additional bat-plant relationships
are constantly being discovered. These
bat-reliant plants provide more than 450
economically important products, valued in
the hundreds of millions of dollars
annually. Tropical bats are key elements in
rain forest ecosystems, which rely on them
to pollinate flowers and disperse seeds for
countless trees and shrubs. In the wild,
important agri- cultural plants, from
bananas, breadfruit, and mangoes to cashews,
dates and figs rely on bats for pollination
and seed dispersal.
- Love your tequila? Thank a bat: tequila
is produced from agave plants whose seed
production drops to one- 3,000th of normal
without bat pollinators.
- Contrary to popular myths, bats are not
blind, do not become entangled in human
hair, and seldom transmit disease to other
animals or humans.
- Bat droppings (guano) in caves support
whole ecosystems of unique organisms, and
are a popular garden fertilizer.
- An anticoagulant from vampire bat saliva
is being researched as a potential medicine
to treat strokes in human patients
What is the truth about bats and rabies?
- Like most mammals, bats can contract
rabies; however, the vast majority of bats
are not infected, and even those that are
normally bite only in self-defense and pose
little threat to people who do not handle
them. (This is the number one reason to
enforce the "look but don't touch" rule for
all wildlife!). Only about 1% of bats
actually contract the disease.
- ln the United States from 1995 through
2009, an average of two people per year have
died of rabies associat- ed with bats.
Rabies is readily prevented by post-contact
- The fear of rabies is far
disproportionate to the actual risk. To put
the risk in perspective: about 386,000
Americans are treated for dog bites each
year and about 16 people die from the
attacks. Yet we would never consider massive
media campaigns suggesting that we eradicate
our canine friends.
The bottom line is that bats are
beneficial. Even if you don't love bats, please
respect them. We need bats!
For information on what you can do to help
bats, please visit