Bats Fact Sheet

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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 economies.
  • 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 vaccination.
  • 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