Bats visit elementary school 2011.02.16
They’re scary. They’re spooky. They get stuck in your hair and make a nest. They’ll bite and you’ll turn into a vampire.
The much maligned bat is none of these, said Michelle Macintosh of the Organization for Bat Conservation. She punctured a few myths for Morenci Elementary School students last week and she brought along a few furry friends for students to study.
Bats are usually associated with Halloween, Macintosh said, but in this area, bats are already hibernating or have migrated south by the end of October.
And that thing about nesting in your hair?
Vampire bats don’t live in this area, Macintosh said, and besides, they aren’t a very frightening animal.
The small vampire bat will walk along the ground until it encounters an animal such as a cow. It makes a small incision and licks a little blood. No sucking; just a small lick. The blood of humans tends to sicken bats, Macintosh said, so visits from vampires are rare.
People should develop some affection for bats, Macintosh suggested, because a single bat can eat up to a thousand insects an hour.
Some species help pollinate flowers and disperse seeds. An anticoagulant found in the saliva of vampire bats is used to make a medicine that breaks up blood clots in humans.
Long-tongued bat. Big-eared bat. Long-nosed bat. Silver-haired bat. Leaf-nosed bat. Ghost-faced bat. Pallid bat. Small-footed bat.
There are more than 1,100 species of bats around the world that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The little brown bat is the common species in this area.
If a bat has big eyes and a long nose, it’s a fruit eater, Macintosh said. That’s the case with the world’s largest bat—the golden crowned fruit bat or flying fox—that measures six feet from wing tip to wing tip.
Think about one of those flying around your bedroom in the night.
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