Among some they have a tendency to elicit screams and sprinting for cover (thank you, Dracula), but bats are nothing to be squeamish about. They're diverse (well over 1,000 species!), important to the planet for many reasons, and quite cool. This Bat Week, Oct. 25–31, let us convince you.
1. Light? Who needs light?
Bats can see, but they are also capable of finding their way in the pitch black. They do it through echolocation—they emit sounds as they fly (which are out of our range of hearing) and use the echoes to map their surroundings.
2. It's not just for bees
Some bats are pollinators, providing critical nectar-drinking services to important plants. Others disperse seeds.
3. The ties that bind
A bat mother can identify her baby in a crowd of other young flyers through scent and its unique voice.
4. A different perspective
Not everyone views bats in a negative light. In China, for instance, bats have very positive associations: happiness, joy, and that good stuff.
5. Bat poop is great
Guano, as it's called, is rich fertilizer.
6. Devastating outbreak
A deadly disease is killing bats in parts of the U.S. and Canada. White-Nose Syndrome was first identified in New York in the winter of 2006-07. Since then it has spread, killing millions of hibernating bats. In some areas, 90 to 100 percent of them have died.
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