Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Mammals » Bats: Chiroptera - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Bats And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

Bats: Chiroptera - Bats And People

eat night luck pollen

Popular folklore and myths have led to many people having a negative reaction to bats. Because most people do not typically see or interact with bats, many misunderstandings about these creatures remain. The Eastern European tale of a vampire, a corpse that came back to life and sucked blood from the neck of its human victim, dates back to the Middle Ages. After Bram Stoker's Dracula was published in 1897, the misconception of bats as dangerous and mysterious became more popular. Although there are only three species of vampire bats, all living in South and Central America, all bats still have a reputation for sucking blood.

Bats also have a reputation for carrying rabies, a viral disease that affects the nervous system and can be spread through bite of an affected animal. Yet less than one half of one percent of bats carries the rabies virus. And bats are rarely aggressive, usually attacking only if they are frightened.

Not all people consider bats a bad omen or scary. In China, bats are considered good luck symbols. Fabrics and dishes are often decorated with bat-shapes for good luck. Native Americans considered the bat a protector.

Bats are beneficial to people in many indirect and direct ways. They are one of the few predators of night-flying insects, some of which are pests to crops and people. People have long used the nitrogen-rich bat droppings, called guano (GWAN-oh), as a fertilizer.


Bracken Cave in Texas is home to the world's largest bat colony. Each year, some twenty million Mexican free-tailed bats gather at this cave near San Antonio to give birth and rear their young. And each night they emerge to forage for food. The twenty million bats can eat more than two hundred tons of insects in a single summer night!

Bats also play an important role in plant pollination, the transfer of pollen, the reproductive spores, for fertilization. When nectar-eating bats move from flower the flower to eat, the bats pick up pollen on their fur and disperse it as they move. Bats are the most important pollinators among mammals in the rainforest. They pollinate many plants that humans eat, including bananas, figs, mangos, and peaches. Bats also are integral for seed dispersal, having led to the continued survival of over 1,000 species of trees. The fruit bat disperses seeds away from the parent tree by either swallowing them and leaving the seeds in their droppings, or carrying off the fruit to eat.

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