Myths and Facts About Bats
Bats have a bad reputation and have been feared and persecuted across the world for centuries. However, most of the preconceptions about bats are myths!
Myth #1: All Bats Carry Diseases Like Rabies
Any wild animal has the ability to harbor infectious diseases. However, it is extremely unlikely for humans to contract anything from a bat.
Human rabies cases in the United States are very, very rare. Only 23 cases of human rabies have been reported in the U.S. in the past decade (2008-2017). Eight of these were contracted outside of the U.S. and its territories. You can view a full list of cases here.
You cannot contract rabies from simply being near bats. Rabies is transmitted via saliva, so you would need to be bitten by a rabid wild animals such as a raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote or bat to be infected.
In the rare occasion that a bat has rabies, it will likely appear weak and behave out of the ordinary. Bats that are active during the daytime, are unable to fly, found in places where bats are not usually seen (for example, on your lawn or inside your house), is far more likely than others to be rabid. Rabies do not make bats aggressive, it usually makes them weak and die.
Like most wildlife, you shouldn't physically handle them (you shouldn't ever need or want to!). Your pets should be up-to-date with their vaccinations which will protect them from rabies. If you or your pets are ever bitten it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Myth #2: Bats are Blind
The saying "blind as a bat" is incorrect! Bats can see both at night and during the daytime. In fact, it is believed that bats can actually see color at night whereas humans can only see shades of gray. How cool is that?!
Myth #3: Bats Get Tangled in Hair
Bats have no interest in going near you or getting tangled in your hair. When bats fly around at night they make high frequency sounds with their mouths and listen for echoes to determine the distance of objects. This process is called echolocation and is quite sophisticated. Not only can they can detect very small objects such as insects, they can spot objects the width of a human hair!
Myth #4: Bats Like to Suck Peoples Blood
There is only one bat species out of 1,100 worldwide that consumes blood for food, and that is the Vampire bat. Found in Mexico and South America, this bat usually consumes blood from sleeping animals such as cows, pigs and horses.
Myth #5: Bats are Rodents
Bats are not rodents. In fact, bats are more closely related to humans than to rats and mice.