Elachee Goes Batty

by Kristin Love

Bats are one of nature’s most misunderstood animals. Bats in North Georgia are the victims of several common misconceptions surrounding their habits and safety.

We are going to get into the nitty gritty of the myths and truths of these adorable flying mammals.

Myth: Bats are Blind.
Truth: Most bats can see as well as humans. However, many bats have adapted to low-light sight for prime hunting time, so can rely on their other senses. Echolocation is a technique used by bats with underdeveloped eyes to navigate safely and hunt their prey, typically insects.

Myth: Bats aim to get tangled into humans’ hair.
Truth: Insect-eating bats are equipped with sonar that allows quick movements at break-neck speed. If a bat is swooping at someone’s head, it is because they are aiming for a mosquito that is attracted to that person.

Myth: All bats carry rabies.
Truth: All mammals are able to contract rabies. Less than 0.5% of all bats contract rabies. It is always safer to refrain from direct contact with all wild mammals, especially those behaving peculiarly.

Myth: All bats feed on blood.
Truth: Of the 1,100 species of bats found worldwide, only three species are vampire bats, and are typically found in Latin America. The remaining species eat fruit, insects, nectar and pollen.

Myth: Bats are mean.
Truth: Bats are one of the most unselfish mammals found in the animal kingdom. They are known to share food with bats that have not been able to eat. They are also awesome pollinators, just like bees and birds!

The Danger

Bats are facing a serious threat, decreasing their populations drastically. This threat is called White Nose Syndrome. This happens when fungus grows on the bats while they hibernate in the U.S. Over 5.7 million bats have met their end due to White Nose Syndrome since 2006. The White Nose Syndrome Response Team is working hard to combat this fungal disease in bat populations around the country. For more information on their important work, check out https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/.