Bats: Six Myths Debunked, One Truth Confirmed
Over several years of removing bats from people's homes, we've learned lots of things. One of them is that people really freak out about bats.
These folks seem to have picked up most of their knowledge from movies and TV, where bats are terrible little creatures who want to get tangled in your hair and suck your blood.
Let's be clear here: Most of the rumors about bats are false. Allow us to debunk some popular bat myths (and confirm one that turns out to be true).
Myth 1: Bats are terrible little creatures who want to get tangled in your hair and suck your blood.
Bats are actually incredibly vital to the environment. That's why many wildlife removal experts don't kill the bats they take out of homes, just release them into new habitats.
Why are bats not as bad as they seem? They eat several breeds of harmful insects, like mosquitos, and are important for the pollination of several plants. (The agave plant, which is used to make tequila, is one of these.)
Bats do NOT want to lodge themselves in your hair. By nature, they're gentle, shy, and intelligent. If one of them does happen to fly into your head, it was probably aiming for the mosquito hovering above it.
Some bats do suck blood, but that's only three species out of more than 1,100, and these are mostly limited to Latin America. It's safe to say that the average bat fluttering over your house isn't interested in your carotid artery.
Myth 2: Bats are blind.
The phrase "blind as a bat" is probably responsible for the popularity of this rumor, but it's just not true. The majority of bats can see just as well as we can. A few varieties, like fruit bats, can see even better than us. (Like cats, fruit bats can see in very low lighting.)
The next time you want to use the phrase "blind as a bat," you may want to go with a different animal that's actually blind, like the cave fish. Though maybe "blind as a cave fish” doesn't have the same ring to it.
Myth 3: Bats are just mice with wings.
Bats are nothing—we repeat, nothing—like mice. In fact, bats are more similar to primates than mice.
Let us tell you just how unique bats are. The world's ONLY flying mammals, they're in an order of species called 'Chiroptera'. Scientists made the order Chiroptera just for bats, because no other animal is similar enough to fall into the same category.
Fact: Bats DO transmit rabies.
And this is why bats ARE dangerous, and DO need to be removed from your home should it become infested.
Rabies is a fatal illness that attacks the nervous system. Once contracted, a human has a very short time to receive the proper medication and eliminate the virus. Once a person shows any symptoms, he or she is unfortunately not going to make it.
Let me be clear: Not all bats carry rabies. In fact, it's a very small percentage. But the fact remains that most of the documented cases of rabies in the United States over the last few decades have been from bat bites.
What have we learned here?
Bats aren't vicious, blind, or mice, but they can get you seriously sick. If you have a bat infestation, don't touch them, and don't let your dog go after them. Call someone to get these unique creatures out of your home and back into the wild.