Why Are We Afraid of Bats?
Bats are one of my favorite animals. They are so weird! They are flying rodents! No other mammal flies. They can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes per hour. They navigate in darkness through the use of echolocation. Some of them are giants. The largest ones have a wing span of 6 feet.
Bats poop is one of the richest source of fertilizer. Some bats hibernate in the cold months and can survive being incased in ice. And yes, three species even drink blood. With all that weirdness, maybe it’s sensible to be afraid of bats. So let’s look at the reasons for being afraid of bats and dismantle them one by one.
They Are Liminal Creatures
Okay, they are flying mammals. Not exactly birds or anything like other mammals. Humans like things that we understand. Bats are not that. They are not predictable. They do their own thing. So perhaps one reason for bats is to teach us to be more comfortable with in between things.
They creep around the dark
The Darkness has always been suspect. It’s easy to hide things in the dark. Scary things (like our Shadow) lurk there, so we stay away. And yet, this is also where the most growth is often found. This is where the ego and sperm meet and gestation happens. So, perhaps this is a side of the dark we can appreciate rather than fear.
They Suck Blood
This is a narrow minded cultural fear. In times past, people understood that blood is life giving. It’s sacred. Many cultures honored and protected women because of this. Bats shouldn’t be able to drink blood. No other creature can do that. It’s not easily digestible, yet they make it happen. So perhaps sucking blood is a feature of their holy status.
Are you starting to get the idea that maybe being different isn’t a bad or scary thing? In animism, the outlier is actually often the most sacred of things because they have something special to teach us.
Benefits of Bats
Obviously being able to eat 6,000- 8,000 insects (crop-destroying moths, cucumber beetles, flies, mosquitoes, and gnats) per night is a huge benefit to humans, but did you know that bats are also important pollinators? As they fly, they disperse seeds that are important to balancing nature. Bat guano (poop) is a source of nutrients for cave dwellers, so they are an important part of the underground ecosystem. Hawks, weasels, owls, and other creatures also feed on bats.
Unfortunately, the bat population is on the decline. One huge reason is white nose syndrome (WNS). It’s a fungal disease which was probably introduced from Europe. (This is why it’s important to keep non-native species OUT of a local area). It’s estimated that WNS has killed 90% of the brown bat population.
The other reasons for bat population decline is a loss of habitat, pollution, the use of insecticides and pesticides.
If you want to help, learn about bats. Educate others about how cool they are. Leave dead and dying trees that aren’t a hazard where they are so bats have a place to roost. Erect bat houses. Eliminate chemical pesticides and insecticides. Practice responsible habits to keep waterways clean.
The decline in the bat population is totally man made. It’s up to us to reverse that trend. Won’t you help?