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Facts & Myths


Bats are an often misunderstood and feared animal. Below are a few common statements about bats.

See if you can pick out the facts from the myths!


Select either Fact or Myth

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FAQs


How do I get rid of bats that are in my house?

If a bat ends up in your living quarters there is no need to panic! First you should seal off the room so the bat can't get anywhere else in your house. Next, open a window or door that leads to the outside. If you have lights on turn them off so the bat will only echolocate to find the opening. The bat should be gone in a few minutes once this is done. Sometimes, the bat will appear to hit the wall and fall to the floor. Actually, it is trying to rest, but because the wall is smooth it can't get a grip on it's surface. Some bats can take off from the ground, but most can't. If a bat is grounded, then you can place a towel on the ground for it to climb onto and bring it outside. Please wear heavy gloves to avoid being bitten! If you are ever bitten by a bat, seek immediate medical attention! The rabies vaccine is no longer painful and it will save your life! Less than 1/2 of 1 percent of bats actually are found to be rabid, but better to err on the side of caution.

For more information on rabies, visit the web site for the Center for Disease Control.


How do I get rid of bats roosting in my attic?

You need to do an exclusion. For details and a picture of this you can visit the web site of Bat Conservation International. Since you also might want to keep them nearby, you will need to install a bat house as an alternative roosting site before the exclusion. You can also go to the website for Laura Flynn to get listings of professionals that do bat exclusions.


Where can I purchase a bat, and can I have one as a pet?

Believe it or not, we get this question more often than you would think. The answer is NO you can't purchase a bat, or own one as a pet. Since bats are associated with rabies, which is a deadly viral disease, they are illegal to keep in captivity. Only licensed rehabilitators are allowed to handle them in an effort to make them releasable back into the wild. There are also some bat researchers that are licensed to keep them. Some states impose fines and imprisonment for the unlawful confinement of certain wild animals. There are already declining numbers of bats which is causing insect populations to go unchecked. We can't keep producing insecticides to take care of the growing insect problem. We need bats to be a vital part in keeping insects from destroying crops, and this means keeping them in the wild, not in our homes!


Where can I get plans to build a bat house?

If you choose to build your own bat house you can buy the "Bat House Builder's Handbook" (buy it here) from Bat Conservation International. We do not sell or give away plans. Their book only costs less than $10, and is filled with all kinds of helpful information as well as instructions on how to do an exclusion of bats. You can read more information on how to build, install, and attract bats with a bat house here on the BCI website. There are some free plans available, but make sure to read through all of their information first.


What predators do bats have?

In North America, bats most commonly have owls, red-tailed hawks, snakes, raccoons, and even foxes as their predators. Cats also will hunt bats if given the opportunity. You could even add humans to the list. While people do not kill bats to eat them in the United States, fear of these creatures cause many bats to be needlessly killed by humans.


Outside of the United States, there are places where fruit bats are killed and eaten by humans. Bat scientists are actively trying to educate these people on the importance of these bats to their echo-system so that they would stop this practice.


In South America, and possibly other places, there are bat species that will predate on other bats. These carnivorous bats eat many different types of small mammals, and therefore will also eat bats that are smaller than them.


In North America, it is believed that the Hoary bat will eat smaller bats. It is well researched that the female bats of this species migrate to the northern parts of the U.S. to give birth and rear their young, while the males stay in the south and southwestern parts of the U.S. The reason for this is believed to be to protect the young pups from being eaten by the males of this species.


All in all, humans who do not understand the important role they play in nature kill the largest numbers of bats that die each year around the globe.


Did the Mega Chiroptera (Old World fruit bats) lose their ability to echolocate?

There are two species belonging to the genus Rousettus that are able to echolocate. We can only speculate about the past. The fossil record and further research may reveal some answers.


Do bats migrate or hibernate?

Since there are about 1,000 different species of bats in the world, there is not one answer to this question. Some bats will migrate long distances, but never hibernate. Some will migrate to a hibernation site for the winter, then migrate back to their summer roosting sites. Some bats never leave the area they live in, but will hibernate in the same place they rear their young. And then some never migrate or hibernate because they live in a climate that doesn't require this. In North America, with its 45 species, you will find almost all of these variations.


Is it true that bat teeth are so sharp, that you may not feel it if bitten?

We cannot say for sure that you would be able feel a bat bite because every individual is different.


From experience I can say that I have known when I have been bitten. I received my first bite when I was doing research with Bat Conservation International in Arizona. I was releasing a small myotis bat from the mist net we trapped it in and having a difficult time getting all of the netting off of it. Since the netting is so fine, I had a glove on one hand and nothing on the other. My non-gloved hand was working on removing the netting from around its head and I punctured my baby finger on one of the teeth. It wasn't really a bite, but none the less, I squeezed my finger and a drop of blood came out. Since I had my pre-exposure to rabies vaccine I didn't have to go immediately to the doctor, but upon returning to my home I received the post-exposure series of shots.


Most people can feel a mosquito bite as it's drawing out your blood. If you can feel this, then you should most definitely be able to feel a bat bite.


What should I do if I think I have been bitten?

If you think that you have been bitten, then you must go to a doctor and receive the rabies treatment. Rabies is a deadly virus and must be taken seriously.


If the bat is dead, then it can be tested. If it is alive and has gone back into the wild, then you must assume that it possibly could have been rabid and get the shots. If you have the bat captive, then the health department will take it and test it.


When a bat is rabid it doesn't show the symptoms that are normally associated with rabies. It doesn't foam at the mouth like a dog would. It doesn't attack and act deranged. It will be either on the ground, clinging to a wall, or another surface and quiet. If you come across a bat that seems out of place, you should always assume that it could be rabid and not handle it. If you need to move it so that a child or animal doesn't bother it, then you should always wear heavy protective gloves. Gently scoop up the bat into a shoebox or other type container and place it out of the way, most preferably on a tree.


Fun Facts


Bats are the only mammal that can fly.


No Bats are blind, but some use echolocation to help them navigate and locate their prey in the dark.


Bats make up the second largest order of mammals called Chiroptera, the first being Rodentia.


Thailand's Bumblebee Bat is the smallest mammal in the world.


Egyptian Fruit Bats, along with the other 9 species in the genus Rousettus, are the only megachiroptera bats that use echolocation.


Frog-eating bats can tell the difference between poisonous and edible frogs by the male frog's mating calls.


In West Africa Woolly Bats live in the webs of colonial spiders.


There are only two known species of bats that have the ability to walk on the ground: The lesser short-tailed bat and the American common vampire bat.


There are only 6 species of bats that are known to roost upright rather than the usual upside down position.


The Sucker-Footed Bat uses wet adhesion by secreting sweat through glands on its wrists and ankles. (read more here)


When hibernating, the Little Brown Bat can reduce its heart rate to 20 beats per minute, and even can stop breathing for 48 minutes.

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