Bats – the Good and the Bad

February 8, 2017

Bats have a really bad reputation. They are constantly being portrayed in the media and in movies as an animal to be feared and as blood-sucking, rabid creatures. As exterminators, it is our job to understand the role that each creature plays in the ecosystem and how that creature impacts the animals above and below it in the food chain. Having gained this knowledge over the years and in our experiences, there are always positive and negatives to each creature we deal with. Here is a quick run down of the good and the bad of bats!

Bats are Good . . . . 

  • Bats are incredibly diverse group of mammals who live on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Bats are the only mammals that can fly making them quite the unique creature.
  • Bats use an amazing navigation feature called echolocation.
  • Bats are great at exterminating pests like mosquitoes and insects that destroy crops. They are critical to our ecosystem.
  • Bats reduce the need for pesticides on farms. The New York Times recently estimated that bats in the United States save us somewhere between $3.7 and 54 billion in pest control services every year.
  • Bats are pollinators. Just like bees, bats pollinate fruits.
  • Bats spread seeds. Fruit bats do this by a process called seed dispersal. These bats eat fruit and their seeds, fly away and disperse the seeds in a different location via their feces.
  • Bats may help produce medicines. Scientists have extracted a compound from Vampire bat saliva and turned it into medicine (aptly named Draculin).

Bats may be harmful . . . 

  • Bats may be dangerous to handle especially of you find one in your home. They do carry disease  so be sure to call in a professional if you suspect that you have a bat in the attic or crawl spaces of your home.
  • Several highly fatal diseases have been linked to bats. Rabies is perhaps the most well known disease associated with bats. 

  • The guano or feces droppings of bats may spread a disease called Histoplasmosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Histoplasmosis is caused by a fungus that grows in soil and material contaminated with droppings from animals, including bats. Droppings, also known as bat guano, can contaminate the soil and cause infectious spores to be released when the soil is disturbed.

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