BAT MYTHS

There are 1,439 species of bats worldwide, with over 40 species in North America. Though small in physical size, bats have a large footprint, making up one-quarter of the world's mammals.
 

Bats belong to the Chiroptera family. They're actually more closely related to primates than they are to rodents. They also don't share behaviour with rodents. For example, bats don't chew on wood, metal, or plastic, and usually aren't pests.

In fact, bats eat smaller pests.

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Myth #1

Bats are completely blind

Though we love to talk about things being "blind as a bat," bigger bats can see up to three times better than humans. Bat vision varies across species, but none are actually blind. In addition to working peepers, bats also use echolocation (emitting sound to navigate) - which means they probably have a better idea of where they're going than many of us.

Myth #2

Bats always hang upside down

Contrary to the popular image, bats don't don't necessarily dangle pointing downward all of the time. According to Dr. Thomas Kunz from Boston University, bats are frequently horizontal when roosting in small crevices, not vertical. They find shelter inside existing structures such as caves, trees and walls. Ceilings and rafters in buildings are their personal favourite spots.

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Myth #3

Bats want to drink your blood

Only three of the roughly 1200 existing bat species are vampire bats, and none of them live in the United States or Canada. Vampire bats don't even really drink blood. The feeding process is more like that of a mosquito. While mosquitos will take blood from humans, vampire bats primarily feed on cattle and larger stock.

Myth #4

Bats carry and give you rabies

False. Statistically bats contract rabies much less frequently than other mammals. And if they do get rabies, it manifests differently than in raccoons or foxes. Rabies-infected bats become paralyzed and can't fly or roost. Less than one-half of one percent of bats actually contract the disease. This doesn’t mean that it’s okay to touch or handle bats, as they may be afraid and bite in self-defence.

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Myth #5

Bats want to fly into your hair

An old myth claims that bats fly into hair, get stuck, and build nests. While it's possible this rumour started to deter young women from going out at night, bats do sometimes swoop around people’s heads. The reason isn't because they're shopping for a new home, however: our bodies attract insects, and bats are after their next snack.

FUN BAT FACTS!

- Bats can live more than 30 years and can fly at speeds of up to 60 mph.  In fact, a 2016 paper published by University of Tennessee researchers found that the Mexican free-tailed bat could reach speeds up to 100 mph, making it one of the fastest mammals on earth.

- Bats can find their food in total darkness.  They locate insects by emitting inaudible high-pitched sounds, creating 10-20 clicks per second and listening to echoes.

- Bats can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes an hour.  Often, bats consume their body weight in insects every night, helping keep bug populations in check. Their bug-eating prowess is so notable it carries economic importance.

- Some bats hibernate in caves through the winter months.  They can survive freezing temperatures, even after being encased in ice.

- Most bats have only one pup a year.  This makes them extremely vulnerable to extinction. Bat mothers can find their babies among thousands or millions of other bats by their unique voices and scents.

- Bat droppings, called guano, are one of the richest fertilizers.  Bat guano was once a big business. Guano was one of Texas's largest mineral exports before oil.

- The world’s largest bat is the "flying fox".  It lives on islands in the South Pacific. It has a wingspan of up to 6 feet. The world’s smallest bat is the bumble bee bat of Thailand, which is smaller than a thumbnail and weighs less than a penny.

Source information courtesy of nature.org, batworld.org and mentalfloss.com