Are You Sharing Your Home With Bats?
Author: Nick Messe
Bats are the only mammals that can fly. All other mammals with flight-like abilities are only capable of gliding. Most bats eat insects, while others eat fruit. Bats help pollinate tropical flowers and spread fruit seeds around so new plants can grow. Despite all of the scary stories built around them, bats are actually very cute and productive creatures and a very important part of our ecosystem. If you should discover that you are sharing your home with bats, the best thing to do would be to find an effective, humane and ecologically sound method of clearing them out.
You've probably heard the term, "Blind as a bat", but the truth is that, while their eyesight is not the best, bats are not blind. Thanks to their ability of echolocation, bats can "see" better than human beings could ever hope to. This intricate method can give bats a detailed map of their surroundings and guide them through nearly any obstacle.
A couple of the scary stories are true. For example, vampire bats really do drink the blood of mammals and also birds, but just because they drink blood does not mean they are going to turn into Count Dracula before your eyes. Like you and I, bats drink water, only they have a very special method of hydrating themselves. A bat will skim the surface of a body of water to collect one single drop of water, then repeat this process until its thirst has been quenched. Besides spreading fruit seeds and pollinating flowers, bats produce nutrient rich guano that can be used to fertilize farmer's fields. It can also be used to make gunpowder.
While the bite of a bat won't turn you into a vampire, it is important to understand that these bites can be quite dangerous to human beings. A bat bite can carry SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the Nepah and Hendra virus, and of course rabies. Bats are second behind dogs as the cause of rabies in the United States, although the number for both creatures is very small.
A bat with rabies is a sick bat, and may not understand what is happening. This makes it more likely that the bat will have a confrontation with a human being that may end in a bite. Due to the small size of their teeth, a bat bite can actually go unnoticed by someone who is sleeping at the time, or drunk from alcohol. Most frightening is the theory that rabies can be spread through the air from bats to humans with no physical contact required.
If a bat flutters into your home, try not to panic. Separate it from the people in the house as best you can, and then close all of the windows but one. The bat should leave. If a bunch of bats have decided to make your home theirs, your best bet is to call a pest control operation, preferably one that will handle the creatures humanely.