Along with ghosts and witches, bats symbolize Halloween. They are mythologized as dark, threatening creatures in the night sky, waiting to swoop and get entangled in our hair and drink our blood. In reality, bats are timid, avoid human contact, and have a tremendously positive impact on our ecosystem.
Bats are nocturnal mammals who can devour up to 3,000 insects in one night, sometimes consuming their entire body weight. They possess “hand wings”; elongated fingers joined together with a tough membrane which enables them to fly, the only mammal to adopt that ability. Bats are not blind and have all five senses, including an ultrasonic bio-sonar capability referred to as “echolocation”, which they use to navigate and catch insects in total darkness.
Besides the high volume of insects, bats consume fruit, nectar, fish, and small vertebrates. One misconception is that all bats are rabid; in fact, studies have shown that less than one percent of bats contact rabies and when they do, they usually die within three or four days. Though they are not aggressive, they can bite in self defense if injured or mishandled. Never pick up a wild bat with your bare hands.
Bats roost during the day and can be seen emerging in droves at twilight, ready for their nightly feast of pesky insects.