Flying through the night, I watch over this world, a silent guardian, a watchful protector, a dark knight, I’m …….
Okay, fine. So, I am not batman. I’m just a bat. But like Batman, I’m often misunderstood. People think I’m scary, strange and dangerous. Yeah-yeah, I am not cute and cuddly like a panda but I do have emotions okay. If only they knew my story, I would be cheered as a hero.When people think of bats, many think of vampires, a bloodsucker undead monster of the night. But the truth is that out of our 1200 species strong brotherhood, only three are vampire bats. And out those three only one prefer the blood of mammals and no they can’t shapeshift and are not related to any count from Transylvania. They mostly feed on cattle. Hmm not convinced that we are good huh?
Well, vampire bats are a great help to humans. Who??? well, A chemical known as desmoteplase, Yes, it’s an actual thing okay. This chemical is found in the saliva of vampire bats is a life saver to stroke victims as it breaks down blood clots. Yeah, I know it’s still an experimental drug but still, You guys owe us a thank you.
Of the remaining 1000+ species of bats, about 70% feed on insects. Ans we help control the Real Vampires. What I am not joking, ever heard of a vampire called mosquitos, well this monster is more than just annoying bites as it’s known as a carrier of Malaria and so many other diseases. A single little brown bat can eat 1000 mosquitoes per hour. And a colony of Mexican free-tailed bats can eat several tons of moths in just one night. Don’t judge us based on our appetite, we eat so that you can eat. In America, alone bats provide 3.7-billion-dollar free pest control for farmers.
Fruit bats. Also, called Megabats, obvious name because of their large size. You, humans, are so predictable. Plays an important role in plant pollination. By traveling between flowers while feeding these bats transport the pollen and seeds that help plants to reproduce. In southeast Asia alone, the cave nectar bat is the only pollinator of the durian fruit. Other bats pollinate peaches, bananas and the agave plants that Tequila is made from. In short, without us, many of your food plants would be unable to produce the tasty fruits you enjoy so much. In short, the wood that you chop is there because of us and so is the food.
As heroes of the ecosystem, we don’t need a convenient utility belt. We have inspired flying robot designs and also energy saving spy planes, No I am not talking about the bat plane, it looks nothing like us. As we are the only mammal capable of true flight, we don’t even brag about it.
Echolocation, a type of biological sonar, we use it to navigate and also find our prey, Kinda cool right. Although it’s a common misconception that we are blind, In reality, all species of bats have proper sight, and some even adopted to large eyes to see in dim lighting. Many of you humans worry about getting infected by us, as if we are some sack of diseases, In reality only 0.5% of all bats carry Rabies. The exact same odds of getting the same result eight times in a coin toss.
The perception that bats are often diseased, that we are not, may come from the fact that sick bats, who may show unusual behavior, emerges during the day. Maybe unable to fly, most likely they come in contact with Humans. So, the best way to protect yourself is to protect us as well. Keeping us healthy and protecting our habitats reduces our chances of getting sick.
Everywhere in the world we bats are threatened by a devastating sickness called the “White-nose syndrome”. This fungal infection causes us to wake up during hibernation during a winter, unable to find food we exert a lot of energy and eventually starve to death. I know heart breaking it is. This disease has wiped out entire caves of my brethren with a mortality rate as high as 90%.
Climate changes and other habitat destruction, yes welcome back to your EVS classes, also poses a serious threat to our populations. So even though I am the hero of the story, I do need to be saved this time. And now that you know my true story, please help protect us.
Batman might want to keep his secret identity but a great way to help the real bats is by learning about us and spreading our truth. Yes the one where I am not a vampire and spread diseases and eat insects and save the day, I mean the night. Or whatever. Even if our good deeds are often unseen we don’t mind doing our job. Because we are the silent guardian and the watchful protectors of the Night.