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Truth vs. Myth About Bats

Myth: Bats are flying mice

Truth: Bats might look like mice to a certain extent, but they are not mice.  Bats are of the order Chiroptera, where mice are of the order Rodentia. Rodents gnaw whereas bats do not.

Myth: Bats can’t see

Truth: Bats can see, although they probably depend on their sense of hearing more than their eyesight when seeking insect prey. The saying “blind as a bat” probably stems from the fact that bats fly erratically, and some species will appear to crash land. Some bat species have no real mechanism to stop, so they land very crudely.

Myth: Bats are usually rabid or carry rabies

Truth: Bats have been documented to carry and spread rabies; however, the disease is not rampant in bats. Less than one bat in a thousand is infected with rabies.

Myth: Bats are commonly entangled in people’s hair

Truth: Bats are excellent at navigating; therefore, becoming entangled in hair is rarely if ever observed if the bat is healthy.

Myth: All bats are like vampires; they drink blood

Truth: There are several species of vampire bats found in Mexico. These bats make a small incision on the host, usually livestock, and lap up blood. Rarely does the bite cause long-term effects. Most bats eat insects, and some species prefer fruits. A few species will prey on fish and small reptiles.

Myth: Bats flying in winter when no insects are present are searching for insect nests

Truth: Bats that prey on insects and are found flying in cold climates in winter may be suffering from White-Nose Syndrome. This syndrome is a fungus which disorients the bat into emerging from hibernation earlier than appropriate, thinking that spring has arrived and insects are present for food. These bats usually do not survive. While this disease is regional, it is spreading.

Myth: You can relocate a colony from your attic by putting up a bat house near your house

Truth: Bats will not relocate unless there is a reason. A bat house is a good tool to host bats, but they will not leave an established roost just to go to the bat house.

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