General

Reasons Why Humans Should Love Bats

If you have ever tried looking out of the window while the sun sets, you must have seen some flying creatures. At first sight, you may think of them as birds. However, after a closer look if you can get it, you’ll notice that the way they fly does not resemble birds! These creatures, unlike birds, fly inconsistently and erratically. So, these are bats. And bats are not birds but mammals.

Unfair Representation of Bats

Bats being mammals, nurse their offspring, are covered in hair, and are warm-blooded. The difference is, bats have wings allowing them to fly. Also, the structure and placement of bones of bats are quite like other birds and humans.

The English language has an expression: ‘blind as a bat’, which is contrary to the scientific evidence. In fact, bats have a reasonably good vision. Along with this, nature has endowed them with another form of night vision known as echolocation. And what it is? Humans and other mammals do most of their activities during the daytime. While bats being nocturnal beings, so people witness these only at night. They send high-frequency sound waves that are inaudible to human ears from their nose and mouth. While the waves hit the food and return with an echo, they can pinpoint their target creatures! So, this is it.

Humans for the long time in history have demonized bats for their nocturnal and dark ways! Plus, unscientific and sensationalist demonizing of bats has also resulted in the increment of human conflict with the wildlife. It also causes a great deal of hindrance in the conservation efforts of bats.

Is There Any Real Reason To Fear Bats?

Nope! Bats are gentle, sophisticated and essential to healthy human survival. People feel threatened by bats because they have been too often portrayed as dangerous sources of diseases without a proper analysis of any actual threat. Any mammal can get rabies, and it can not be particularly said about bats only. In fact, globally, 99 percent of human rabies is caused by dogs. Not to be forgotten, that one can get rabies if one contacts the saliva of an infected animal. Hence, these fears that you would get rabies just by looking at a bat are unfounded and misleading. Simply do not handle bats and you have nothing to fear.

Some of the people believe that bats might catch their hair. This belief too is far from the truth. Bats are excellent flyers and avoid all kinds of human contacts on their own.

The famous colony of approximately 1.5 million Brazilian free-tailed bats  (Tadarida brasiliensis)  living in crevices beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas has attracted millions of visitors to enjoy its spectacular emergences over the past 35 years.  Small signs simply warn not to handle the bats, and despite countless close encounters no one has ever been harmed. The bats attract millions of tourist dollars each summer and consume tons of crop and yard pests each night.

Habitat of Bats

Bats are found in abundance over all parts of the globe where humans inhabit. This means except for Antarctica; bats are on every continent. Bats being diverse beings require different kinds of bat houses to live. Some like to live in the empty trunk of a tree while some like it under the big leaves. Some bats also like abandoned mines, walls of cliffs, and caves. Also in hollow trees, foliage, unfurled leaves, constructed leaf-tents, tree tops, termite nests and some even live in pitcher plants! Some of the smaller breeds even roost under the loose barks of the old trees. Some bats live under bridges in cities. Texas’ Bracken cave houses more than 20 million bats and is the world’s largest congregation of bats.

Different Species Of Bats
Bats are very diverse creatures. Kitti’s hog-nosed bats from South East Asia are the world’s smallest bats weighing around 2 grams and a size ranging from 1.1 to 1.3 inch. On the contrary, one of the largest bat species is the large flying fox found in South East Asia. It has a wingspan of more than 5 feet! They feed on nectar and pollen from the flowering trees. Often, they eat native berries and fruits as well.

A Kitti’s Hog-nosed or bumblebee bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai) from Thailand. It weighs only about 2 grams and is often referred to as the world’s smallest mammal, but several other bat species and a species of shrew are of similar size.

Large flying foxes (Pteropus vampyrus) have wingspans of nearly six feet, the largest of any bat.

Why Would Anybody Want to Attract Bats?

Many are not aware that bats are excellent neighbors. Why? Because they eat a lot of crop-harming and disease-spreading insects (like mosquitoes!). In a way, they are nature provided insecticides. With bats around, farmers need less and less of money to be spent on pesticides and insecticides.

Great fruit-eating bat (Artibeus lituratus) in flight with Balata fruit in Trinidad. This bat seed-dispersed fruit is popularly harvested and eaten from wild trees by Trinidadians

In the tropical regions, bats help in spreading seeds and pollination of flowers. The fact of the matter is more than 300 species of tropical vegetation depend on bats for the dispersal or pollination of their seeds including figs, date, avocados, mangoes, bananas. They are a useful natural tool to deal with the human-made challenges of deforestation. Bats are one of nature’s most fabulous friends as they help in rebuilding rainforests which are encroached upon by humans. No animal can carry more seeds farther than a bat!

A cave nectar bat (Eonycteris spelaea) pollinating a Petai inflorescence in Thailand. These trees are often used as ornamentals, and its “stink bean” fruits are a popular human food delicacy throughout much of SE Asia. Cave nectar bats traditionally formed large colonies in caves but are in alarming decline in most areas, often overharvested for human consumption or killed during careless limestone extraction.

This might come as a surprise to most of you, that even vampire bats are beneficial to humans. Their saliva contains desmoteplase or DSPA, which is an anticoagulant. Scientists are exploring its application in medical science. US National Library of Medicine has listed the efficacy and safety study of desmoteplase to treat acute Ischemic stroke. Desmoteplase could also be deployed as a blood thinner so that heart attacks could be prevented.

Even the excrement of bats, known as guano, is a valuable fertilizer. It is so because it contains high amounts of potassium, phosphate, and nitrogen. These are the vital nutrients required for the growth of plants and crops.

Entice Bats To Your Garden By Making Quality Bat Houses

You can also attract bats to your backyard by making or buying a quality bat house. Hanging a bat house is a great way of helping bats in need of a safe place while getting the benefit from their values!