by Linda Razzell
Bats in your belfry? Be grateful! Bats are important. They keep down the pests in our gardens and fields, play a huge part in pollination and distribute fruit seeds. If the bees continue to desert us, we’re going to need to befriend the bats unless we wish to see whole ecosystems collapse.
Their greatest threat of course is you and me. We disturb and destroy their habitats, build wind turbines, high speed roads and railways, all potential bat killers.
Bats are a gardener’s friend, just like snakes, frogs, toads and many other ‘things that make you go eurgh’. A single little brown bat can eat one thousand mosquitoes in an hour. In fact, bats are nocturnal insecticide bombs! What’s not to like?
Our knowledge of bats tends to stem more from fiction than from fact – they will fly into your hair, suck your blood, carry rabies, frighten your sheep – but these beliefs come from lack of education (ours) and discreet habits (theirs).
Facts about bats
– they bring up their babies in a ‘nursery’ for warmth (fathers do not share childcare)
– they are the only true flying mammal (they are NOT rodents)
– there are over one thousand species
– they are nocturnal and ‘see’ by echolocation (sound waves bouncing back to them)
– the earliest bat fossils go back 52 million years
– their dung makes rich fertilizer, and was used to make gun powder in the American Civil War
– bats do not bite, and do not suck the blood of humans
Finally, if you’re still not convinced, take a look at Mexico where bats pollinate the flowers of the agave cactus……and remember that without them, there would be no tequila!
So next time you’re sipping a Marguerita on the terrace, drink a toast to bats and millions of years of evolution to bring you a cocktail!