Bats are often associated with blood-sucking vampires and Halloween horror, but they aren’t the scary creatures they’ve been made out to be. They’re actually some of the most amazing creatures on the planet—and also some of the most endangered.
Here are a few things you may not know about bats:
1. Bats don’t want to suck your blood. Of the 1,100 species of bats worldwide, only three consume blood, and they usually target cattle, not people. None of the three vampire bat species are found in the United States.
2. Bats with rabies are incredibly rare. 99 percent of rabies cases in the United States are from domestic dogs. Most bats to do not carry or transmit rabies.
3. Bats eat mosquitoes. They can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour. They are some of our best and safest non-toxic natural pest controls.
4. Bats can use sound to see. Bats often use echolocation to “see” in the dark. They emit high-pitched sounds and listen as the sound waves bounce off rocks, trees, and insects. The sound waves create a mental map to guide them as they fly.
5. Bats fertilize plants and pollinate flowers. Bat poop—called guano—is some of the richest fertilizer in the world, and over 300 plant species rely on bats to pollinate or disperse their seeds, including mangos and bananas.
6. Bats live in colonies. Baby bats drink milk from their mothers, and they live together in colonies of hundreds to thousands of bats.
7. Bats are the world’s only flying mammal. Other mammals can glide or parachute, but bats are the only mammals capable of sustained flight.
8. Bats need our help. Deforestation and disease are wiping out bats. Many species of bats are endangered.
One of the most endangered species of bat is the gray bat (Myotis grisescens). Gray bats are around 3-4 inches long and with all-gray fur. They hibernate in caves for most of the winter, and then they emerge in spring and feed mainly on flying insects like mosquitoes.
Gray bats are one of four endangered species depend on the intact forests of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest. This year, the U.S. Forest Service is finalizing a 30-year Forest Plan for the Pisgah-Nantahala. We need your help in encouraging the U.S. Forest Service to permanently protect more forests as part of its Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Plan.
The first step is joining I Heart Pisgah. It’s free and easy. Just click here.
Ask friends to join and spread the word about I Heart Pisgah—a voice for bats and other endangered species that depend on a wild, forested Pisgah-Nantahala for their survival.