The Incredible Bat

Most of us have had an unpleasant experience at one time or another in our lives with bats. There have been several times in my public school teaching experience when a bat got loose in my classroom scattering screaming students as it swooped around the room trying to find a way out. These negative experiences tend to make us have a negative attitude toward this most interesting and useful creature.

Bats are incredible creatures. Radar screens sometimes find them covering as much as 10,000 square miles in their search for food. Insect eating bats will eat nearly their body weight in bugs in a single night. One study of the bats in Bracken Cave in Texas found that their digestive systems and fruit are designed so the seeds of the fruit are not damaged by digestion. The result is the bats plant all kinds of fruit-bearing trees and bushes sustaining beneficial plant populations. This is especially true in desert and rain forest areas.

Almost all of the negative stories and fears about bats are untrue. When someone says "blind as a bat" they are way off base. Some bats can see a bug the size of a rice grain by starlight. Our best military night scopes are needed for man to see that well. Fear of rabies is an overstated problem. Only 24 people are believed to have contracted rabies from a bat in the whole history of the United States, and the common brown bat has never given rabies to anyone even though it is our most common bat. There are no vampire bats north of Mexico, and vampires do not suck blood--they lap up blood from a wound. Bats do not get snarled in women's hair and will avoid contact with a human if they possibly can.

Bats are incredibly designed. They can fly 80 miles per hour, can share a cave with 8.7 million other bats and get along, and with 8.7 million bats in a cave a mother bat can find her baby every time recognizing its vocal pattern. Even the location device to find insects is incredible. High frequency sounds are emitted through the bat's nose or mouth. The ultrasonic sounds bounce back to the bat which tells the bat where the bug is, its size, shape, and direction of motion. Fruit bats have delicate senses of smell and sight and do not use echolocation methods. The bat is designed to help man by controlling insects, pollinating flowers, or planting beneficial plants. The sophistication of the highly complex animal speaks of design that could only be accomplished by a talented engineer--not by blind chance.

Data Sources: Popular Science, November, 1996, pages 53-58;

International Wildlife, May/June, 1992, pages 4-10.

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