In an old abandoned school building as dusk begins to grow a few loud shrills ring out and a swift stirring of several creatures fly through the broken windows. To a passerby they might point and say bats.
Bats have gotten a bad rap for years. At the mention of the name vampire bat people think of vicious flying menaces swooping down to draw blood from some unwilling person. Dracula and all of his comrades, with their lust for blood, turn into bats. Every bat carries rabies so that’s why they’re out to get us. No wonder bats are feared as blood lusting disease carries.
Three species of vampire bats do exist in Latin America. They are small little guys and do feed off the blood of animals, but not people. A majority of bats eat insects, mosquitoes included, while others love pollen, nectar, and fruit.
With over a thousand species of bats they don’t carry rabies any more then other animals. Right under one half of one percent ever get the deadly disease and even then they will rarely attack a human.
Bats live in caves, but they also live in tree hollows, forest areas, barns, and old buildings. To conserve their habitats and give them refuge many landowners are doing their part to help out. By disposing of trash, providing clean water sources, leaving areas of untrimmed mature trees, and hollows. Some are providing bat houses, artificially constructed roosts, to help boost bat populations.
Bats are social and they do chirp, buzz, and use tremulous tones to talk to each other. They travel around by use of high frequency sounds to determine obstacles in the dark. They are intelligent and have been compared to the intelligence of dolphins. It is yet undecided whether the fruit bat will become reclassified as a primate.
People are discovering the beauty of bats. March through October in Texas there are numerous places you can witness bats emerging out of caves, tunnels, and bridges in huge colonies. One of these places is located in Austin at the Congress Avenue Bridge. Here every evening 1.5 million bats will fill the sky.
You can also pay a visit to the Frio Cave in Concan Texas. Here you will find a colony of 10 to 12 million bats.
Mason Texas has the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve with 6 million bats.
In Houston Texas a new site is under way at Waugh Drive Bridge.
Bats at least are gathering a crowd and opening eyes at how remarkable they are. They make up nearly a quarter of all species of mammal and are found all over the planet except in extreme environments such as deserts and icy locations like Alaska.
We threaten the survival of bats as we do most species and we all need to do our part to insure that they continue to thrive. Mexican free-tailed bats eat around 1,000 tons of insects per night during their summer stay in Central Texas. They are vital in maintaining insect numbers and are not the scary characters people have made them out to be. The bat is a valuable friend.