All month we’re celebrating the often misunderstood and feared bat.
Yep, October is Bat Appreciation Month.
But you shouldn’t fear or hate bats. They’re fascinating little critters. And while some are quite odd looking, others are downright cute (yes, cute!).
We’re not sure who came up with Bat Appreciation Month. Everyone seems to agree it happens every October. But we don’t find any information on when it started or why.
October does seem like an appropriate month for it, though. After all, many Halloween displays include at least one or two bats!
How many of these did you know?
At one time people seemed to think bats were an odd kind of bird. But they really are mammals, just like us.
In fact, they’re the only mammals that can fly. Other mammals, like flying squirrels, can glide. But they don’t really fly.
Since they’re mammals, momma bats nurse their babies. And each female usually only has one baby per year.
Some eat insects … lots of insects. Mosquitoes, too! Mexican Free-tailed Bats eat about 4 times their body weight in insects every night.
Other bats eat fruit. They help disburse the seeds so new plants can grow.
Still others eat pollen, like bees. And also like bees, they help pollinate the plants they feed on. Foods that rely at least partly on bats for pollination include bananas, guava, and agave (where tequila comes from!).
Bat poop, called guano, makes amazing fertilizer.
Bats have hands much like ours … well, at least as far as having 4 fingers and a thumb. Their fingers are a lot longer than ours, though!
Bat wings are very thin membranes of skin stretched across their arms and fingers.
Bats can see just fine during the day … so “blind as a bat” doesn’t really make much sense. They don’t see as well at night. These things are much like us.
Since night is when insect-eating bats hunt, they use echolocation to “see” what’s around them. They send out high-pitched squeaks and pay attention to how the sounds bounce back to them from nearby objects. This is not at all like us!
According to Bat Conservation International, there are at least 1,300 species of bat (and counting!). About 47 of those species live in North America.
Of those 1,300 species only 3 use blood as a food source. And none of them suck your blood. The vampire bats have very (VERY!) sharp teeth they use to scratch an animal and then lick up the blood that oozes out. They choose birds, cows, and horses over people.
Bats come in a wide variety of sizes, too. The biggest are the flying foxes, which can weigh more than 2.5 pounds, with wing spans up to 6 feet. The smallest is the bumblebee bat. It’s about the size of (you guessed it!) a bumblebee, and it weighs less than 2 grams (.004 pounds).
And a less fun fact: Most of the bat species in the US are endangered. So are many species in other countries. Everything from habitat destruction to pesticides pose a danger to their lives.
Scroll down for some ideas on celebrating this adorably batty holiday
As the title of the month says: Appreciate bats this October!
The best way to appreciate anything is to learn more about it. So spend some time learning more about bats.
Consider one of these books:
Explore these websites, from organizations dedicated to helping bats:
Help your kids learn more, too. These books are geared toward younger readers:
Make them with your kids or for yourself. Then use them as Halloween decorations!
Make Batty Balls. They’re rum balls with eyes and bat wings! The recipe also includes a substitution to make these suitable for kids.
BCI’s Adopt-a-Bat program includes a plush bat and an adoption certificate.
NightWings Rainforest Centre, in Queensland, Australia, lets you Sponsor an Animal. Choose from an orphaned baby Flying fox, injured adult Flying fox, or a Microbat.
Sponsor a Bat in Need at Bat World Sanctuary. At the time of this writing, you can choose from 14 Bat World residents, including a few who are quite famous, like Lil Drac and Peekaboo. (If you haven’t heard of these cuties, click on their names to learn more about them and see adorable pics and videos—Go! 🙂 )
Of course, you’ll want to check out these organizations before making any donations. We love them all, but we can’t guarantee they use donations in ways you love. Only you can do that.
Watch some 250,000 Mexican Free-tailed Bats head out on their nightly “food run” from under a causeway in Davis, California:
Baby bat burritos need no further introduction: