Tag Archives: bats

The Creatures of Halloween…10 Things You Might Not Know

pump-8537So happy Halloween everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful day and doing something festive for the holiday. Maybe you carved a pumpkin or went to a parade or will give out some candy tonight. Whatever the case, Happy Day!

A Lyle's flying fox from Thailand--these have a 3 foot wingspan!

A Lyle’s flying fox from Thailand

You know the creatures of Halloween, right? Namely BATS, SPIDERS, RAVENS and CROWS. Can you think of any others that deserve being on this list?

Well let’s look at 10 things about these misunderstood critters that you may know know:

1.All BATS do not carry rabies! This is a myth. Less than one half of one percent contract rabies. The best thing you can do to protect yourself from bat rabies is to never touch a sick or injured bat and make sure your children or grandchildren are instructed to never touch ANY wild animal–be it a bat, squirrel, chipmunk, etc.

2.All BATS are not vampires and vampire BATS actually will share their meals with other bats! Of more than 1300 worldwide species of bats, only 3 feed on blood and those all live in Latin America. And they don’t suck it like the movies suggest, they lap it up like a kitten drinks milk. Two feed on the blood from birds and the other–a common vampire bat–usually feeds on livestock or birds. The animal seldom is even aware it has been visited and the bat drinks only about a tablespoon per visit. If a vampire bat can’t find a meal, another bat may share its meal (regurgitated blood) and then, if that bat is ever in need, the favor will be returned! And vampire bats participate in social grooming.

3. BATS are NOT blind! Bats have eyes but many rely on echolocation to “see” their surroundings, more than on their eyesight. Their sonar is so amazing they can detect an object in the air thinner than a human hair. Fruit bats have big eyes and a fabulous sense of smell to find their food–nectar and fruit.

Check out this slideshow of some of the world’s bat species–there are so many cute and amazing faces! And these pictures are truly amazing! All of these slides are courtesy of Merlin Tuttlefounder of my favorite organizationBat Conservation International. This organization works to change public perception of bats, educate decision-makers, and protect valuable bat habitat and the flying mammals these habitats serve.

Medagascan fruit batPainted bat in Thailand--Wow, this is beautiful!!Male Chapin's free-tailed bat during courtshipMinor epauletted fruit bat Africa-- (turned upside down!)Hoary bat of North AmericaEpauletted fruit bat in KenyaAustralian ghost batFish eating batFrog-eating or fringe-lipped bat in PanamaGrandidler's trident bat from MadagascarGreater Long-tongued Nectar bat, SE AsiaMacconnell's bat, Costa RicaOrange nectar bat in tropical forestsVeldkamp's dwarf epauletted fruit batBig Brown bat--one of our common NA batsFormosan golden bat, AsiaGreater Naked Bat, ThailandHairy-legged vampire bat--these feed on the blood of birdsHammer-headed bat, AfricaHonduran white batIndiana myotis--one of our endangered speciesThe world's smallest bat-Kitti's hog-nosed bat, Thailand.jpgLesser bulldog bats in ParaguayLesser short-nosed fruit bat, ThailandPallid bat with centipede--they are not affected by the stings!Rafinesque's big-eared batSpotted bat, UtahStraw-colored fruit batTownsend's big eared bat

Which one is your favorite? Are you surprised at the variety? I was! (If you want to learn more about bats I highly recommend Merlin Tuttle’s book called The Secret Lives of Bats. It is fascinating)

4.  Bats are not pests or flying rodents. Bats provide us with amazing services and are essential parts of ecosystems worldwide. An average-size bat can eat more than 1000 mosquito-sized insects (including mosquitoes) in ONE HOUR! A mother bat will eat her body weight in insects each night. Imagine how many insects an entire colony of thousands or even millions of bats consumes nightly! In addition,bats pollinate many plants, spread seeds, save farmers billions of dollars in pest control, maintain healthy forests, provide guano which is an important fertilizer in many parts of the world, and are important in medical research. Like cats, bats groom themselves regularly to keep clean and are more closely related to primates than rodents.

5.There are more than 50,000 species of SPIDERS in the world! And of those only 1/20th of 1%  have venom capable of causing illness in humans. And guess what? They are HARD to identify–usually requiring a microscope.

tar-0486.You know those TARANTULAS that scary movies always seem to feature? Well one of the reasons they use them is because they are so easy to handle and their venom has such a low toxicity to humans. None of the North American species pose a bite hazard to people–the worst you have to fear when handling one are the irritating hairs on their abdomen which can cause mild skin rashes or inflammation of the eyes and face. Tarantulas can live to be 30 years old!

7.SPIDERS are not “out to get you” despite what the scary Halloween movies may suggest. Spiders use their venom solely for subduing or killing their prey–usually insects or other invertebrates. Wasting it on you for no reason is not likely. Despite what popular media and medical professionals may suggest, spider bites are uncommon.

A crab spider with a beetle. These spiders do not build webs.

A crab spider with a beetle. These spiders do not build webs.

8.All SPIDERS do not build webs. Many hunt and stalk their prey or ambush unsuspecting insects. Those that don’t build webs use their silk for protecting their eggs and as a dragline when moving around.

9.RAVENS have been known to play–just for fun. Check out this video of ravens sledding down a metal roof!

Crows are very smart

Crows are very smart

10. Crows have the largest brain to body ratio of any bird. Like a chimpanzee, they are very smart. They have excellent memories and can find food, move it, stash it again and still find it many days later.

Did you learn anything? Once I got started, I discovered there was SO MUCH to talk about… but of course 10 things is 10 things! So I stopped there. If you want to read more about this you can check out these posts about BATS or SPIDERS.  Or if you want, you can try a Halloween quiz that I created last year. Test what you know! Also, don’t forget–if you are local to western North Carolina, you still have time to sign up for my bat class at the Blue Ridge Community College on November 7th from 1-3.

Happy Halloween!

Our dog Schroeder's Halloween costume!


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Weekly Puzzler #135: Bats and Rum?

Happy Saturday! Is fall in full swing yet where you live? Are you getting a chance to get out and enjoy it?

As you know Halloween is just around the corner so I thought I would do a puzzler featuring one of the “Creatures of Halloween”–a bat, and probably THE most famous of all the holiday’s creatures. Have you ever bought Bacardi Rum or seen the bottle on the shelf in a bar? Ever noticed the logo on the bottle? It is an attractive bat. This week’s puzzler is: Why does Bacardi feature a bat as part of their logo?

rum-9158 rum-9159

If you want to guess use the comment box below for your chance to be entered in the quarterly drawing. All correct answers will automatically be eligible to win the next prize, given on the first day of winter. Good luck… and really, you have nothing to lose for trying!

Have a great weekend!

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #86

I did this puzzler because one day while doing research, I came across this fun video. It was appealing because it answered a question many people–myself included–have likely had when they saw or thought about sleeping bats. How DO they stay there, hanging upside-down like that?

Here’s a video explaining the science behind this:


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Weekly Puzzler Answer #85

What thoughts did you have about last week’s puzzler? Movies around Halloween would have us believe ALL bats are vampires. But is there such a thing in the first place?

A fruit bat in Thailand

A fruit bat in Thailand

In the world there are more than 1300 species of bats. One quarter of all mammals are bats. Depending on the kind, bats might eat insects, fruit, nectar,and even fish, frogs and small rodents like mice…

And yes, blood. But of the 1300 different types of bats, only 3 feed on blood. And all of those live in Latin America. And unlike the movies where bats SUCK blood from their unknowing hosts, bats in the wild LAP up blood– like a kitten drinking milk– and only a small amount, usually not even waking the animal –usually cows and other livestock, as they feed.

Vampire bats are important for medical research. Their saliva contains a powerful anticoagulant that has been developed into a medication to help prevent strokes.

Once again, this shows how much we need bats! Check out the new puzzler–another one about bats.

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Weekly Puzzler #86

Sleeping Flying Fox bats in Thailand

Sleeping Flying Fox bats in Thailand

So since we’re talking about bats, I thought I would do another puzzler about them. Maybe you’ve seen pictures of thousands of bats hanging from the ceiling of a cave. Ever wondered why they don’t fall when they’re sleeping? That is this week’s puzzler: Why don’t sleeping bats fall down? Check back next weekend to watch a video explaining this.

Bats sleeping in a cave

Bats sleeping in a cave

Until then, have a wonderful weekend!!

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Weekly Puzzler #85


Happy Halloween!!!

As a child I LOVED this holiday. I always had a home-made costume (the best kind!) and went trick-or-treating with my brother or friends. Do you enjoy Halloween? What was the best costume you ever had?

I love to talk about the “creatures of Halloween”, namely spiders (Click HERE to read 10 things you may not know about spiders) and bats because they are often so misunderstood and feared. Many of the things we think we know about these creatures is not true at all, but simply myths that have been perpetuated for years. Last year I did a quiz in honor of this holiday. Click HERE if you’d like to try it!

A photo from the Zoobook magazine about BATS

A photo from the Zoobook magazine about BATS

This week’s puzzler, in honor of Halloween, is about bats. It is this simple question: Is there such a thing as Vampire Bats and if yes, where do they live?  Click HERE to see if your guess was correct.

Have fun and be safe this evening! And hey, don’t forget tonight is the night to set your clocks BACK one hour.


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