There is a lot of misinformation surrounding bats. They are feared as blood-sucking flying terrors out to attack you. Their association with vampires in stories doesn’t help clear up any of these misconceptions either.
If you see a bat flying around your yard at night, should you be concerned? Or might bats really be a secret ally, a creature you actually want to encourage to stay in your yard?
So what is the truth about bats? What are the actual myths concerning them and what rumors are actually partially true? And under what circumstances might they prove to be a problem and what can you do about it?
Did you know that of the 1,100 species of bats in the world, only 3 kinds of bats actually consume blood? One of those species feeds on cattle blood and the other two on birds. And none of these species is found in North America, but are in Central and South America. Technically even these “bloodsucking” bats don’t actually suck blood. They puncture their prey’s skin with their little teeth and then lap up the blood. And even then, they only lap up about a teaspoon’s worth if that.
Another common concern regarding bats is the threat of rabies. It is a valid concern since bats can transmit rabies, but the percentage of bats that have rabies is less than 1%. As with any wild animal, you should not handle it or touch it if you should find one, but it is unlikely that most bats will have rabies.
“Blind as a bat” doesn’t really hold up it turns out. Bats can see just fine, not in color or very good definition, but they aren’t blind. In fact, they actually have pretty good night vision, being able to see in what many would perceive as pitch-black conditions. They use their famed echolocation to find, target, and catch insects in flight which is perhaps where the myth about blindness was started, but the truth is only baby bats are blind.
Bats don’t attack humans except in self-defense or fear. They are more than happy to leave you alone and are more likely to flee from you than attack you. If a bat were to become trapped in your home somehow, opening a few doors or windows after letting the bat know of your presence will usually be enough to encourage the bat to leave without having to catch it. Bats will try to bite you if you attempt to catch or handle them and they feel they have no way to escape.
The only other reasons a bat might become aggressive would be in the rare case that the bat had rabies. Even then bats aren’t particularly violent, but they may act unusual and this can include uncharacteristic attacking.
Most bats primarily eat insects. Some eat fruit too, but for the most part, bats consume thousands and thousands of insects for their diet. And this is where we begin to see the benefit of having bats around. A single bat can eat between 600 and 1,000 mosquitoes an hour. Not only mosquitoes though, but bats also eat all kinds of flying insects that could be harmful to you or destructive to your yard.
Lastly, bat droppings, called guano, are considered quite a nice fertilizer. Because of this, having a few bats around could really help the overall health of your yard and gardens. You will want to be careful handling the droppings, as you would with any manure-based fertilizer since it can carry disease and bacteria that would be harmful to humans.
So overall bats are good and beneficial creatures to have around. But when might it be a problem? When might it be necessary to have bats removed?
-If you notice a bat acting strangely, active during the day, or seemingly unafraid of humans, it could be rabid and in such a case you should call animal control services to come to take care of it before it bites anything.
-If you have bats in your house, like an attic space or garage, you will want to encourage them to move out since it is not sanitary to have bats inside. Rodent control and prevention companies are adept at knowing how to humanely move bats out of residential and commercial buildings and know what preventative measures to take to keep them out in the future.
-Another complication that may arise due to the presence of bats are allergies related to the bat droppings. This is especially true of people with asthma, the elderly, children, and the immune-compromised. This is usually a problem that occurs when the bats are inside and can be remedied by getting them out.
So what should you do about bats? The short answer is to leave them be. If they aren’t in your house they don’t pose a risk to you or your family and their presence in your yard can actually bring many benefits.
If you find a bat acting strangely, call animal control to come to check it out. Don’t touch it or move it in the meantime.
If you find bats in your attic or garage consider calling a pest control service to help you move them out. You will then want to make sure you find all possible entry points and seal them off so that the bats can’t return.
You may also want to consider investing in a bat box so that your bats have a home all of their own. This will not only encourage existing bats to stay out of your house but may also attract more bats, bringing more benefits with them.
Turns out bats are pretty helpful little creatures. These flying mammals are pretty harmless to humans and will eat a significant number of insects every night, insects that often carry diseases themselves. Their droppings make a good fertilizer for your gardens and grasses, and bats are unlikely to ever bother you so long as you don’t try to catch to touch them.
So let the bats swoop and fly through the evening sky. They are your friends and allies and you have nothing to fear from them.