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Bats: Insect Killers of the Night Sky

Bats carve out a niche for themselves in the night sky. Among the most successful of all mammals, they make a place for themselves by eating flying insects. One can eat over 500 mosquitoes in a single hour. Most people do not realize, therefore, that they provide a form of natural insect control. The insects they consume each evening are worth millions of dollars to our economy.

An Undeserved Reputation

Many people are afraid of them. This fear comes about for a number of reasons. They live, hunt and socialize at night, and most individuals are not fond of creatures that are active in the dark. This is partly because their activities are hidden from view, making them a bit of a mystery to humans. Perhaps if we could see the graceful the way they swoop about locating and capturing their prey, we would be less afraid and more in admiration of these skillful hunters.

Stories circulating about the vampire bat also do not do much for this creature’s reputation. Vampire bats are real, and they do bite animals to drink the animal's blood. However, they are only one kind of bat and should not represent the species as a whole. Chances are that any that you will come in contact with is not out to purposely hurt humans. They are actually helpful, eating hundreds of insects that might otherwise cause problems for us in one way or another.

Facts about Bats

Most live in colonies with others in caves and dark places. Perhaps the vast numbers of them in the colony and the inherent mystery of caves contribute to human mistrust and fear. Each colony can have millions of members, which is quite intimidating for anyone who stumbles upon it.

Bats are also mammals, and as such, they have hair on their skin and they give birth to live young. They also nurse their young with milk. After birth, it will cling to its mother and stay very close for a while. The mother will nurse her baby with her milk until the baby is big enough to fly and get food on its own.

Because both bats and humans are mammals, they share a number of characteristics, including their bone and muscular structure. If you compare the bones of a human with the bones of a bat, you will see striking similarities between them. Of course, there are some differences as well; they are much smaller, and the bones that make up a bat's hand have grown very long to support and manipulate the wings.

They are amazing predators of the night sky, flying and hunting in a way that is similar to a falcon or an eagle. They keep insects under control with their hunting skills and voracious appetites and should not be feared. Next time you are outside around dusk, keep your eyes open for the distinct swooping antics of our friend and helper, the bat.


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