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Bat Facts Dispel Myths
This National Park Service photo shows the nightly exodus of bats from Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. Through mid-October, thousands of bats swarm out of the cave mouth each evening at sunset to hunt for bugs for their nightly meal and the public is invited to watch. - photo by Photo Contributed

Literature and Hollywood have done much to villainize bats, which many people perceive to be dangerous, blood-sucking creatures that prey on unsuspecting victims.

However, bats are far less menacing than that. While there are bats that feed on blood (vampire bats), they tend to stick to cows, pigs, horses, and birds for their meals. It is uncommon for vampire bats to bite humans for food. Vampire bats make a small cut with their teeth and then lap up the blood with their tongues, rather than ‘suck’ the blood like they do in movies. These bats are native to Central and South America.

Most other bats feed on fruit, fish or insects, particularly those that reside in North America. A single bat can eat up to 1,200 mosquito-sized insects every hour, and a bat will usually eat around 8,000 insects a night. In fact, it is beneficial to have bats around since they might serve as all-natural pesticides. Bats are nocturnal mammals that ‘see’ in the dark using echolocation. Their eyesight is actually quite poor, but these echoes serve as a form of sonar so that bats can find prey and steer clear of obstacles in their path.

There are more than 1,000 different bat species. Some are solitary animals, while others thrive with hundreds of others in caves. Bats are nothing to fear – even around Halloween – and actually can be fascinating to study.