Going Batty over Bats

When the sun filters to a dim glow on the horizon as dusk approaches, it is then the wonderful flying machines, bats, come out to play, and hunt. Anywhere in Indonesia you travel you will see these beautiful creatures.

Here’s a few facts compiled from various sources:

Going to bat for the animal kingdom

* The bat is the only mammal that can fly.

* Bats have only one baby a year.

* A single little brown bat can catch 1,200 mosquitoes-sized insects in just one hour.

* Bats are not blind and have decent eyesight. However, they navigate primarily through sonar.

* When they hibernate, some bats drop their body temperature to just a few degrees above freezing. It can be fatal to them if they are disturbed during hibernation because it throws their bodies into shock.

* The leg bones of a bat are so thin that no bat can walk.

* Bats can enter a building through a hole as small as 2.5 centimeters in diameter.

* Male fruit bats have the highest incidence of homosexuality in the animal kingdom.

* The fact that bats usually have their mouths gaping open is not meant to be hostile or defensive — they are only sending out their ultrasonic squeaks so that they can “see”.

* The large ears and nose leaves of some micro-bats aid in echolocation.

* Bats are the mascots of cave explorers.

* Bats make up one fourth of all mammal species and are second in diversity only to rodents. More bats are found in the tropics than any other mammal.

* During WWII, Americans tried to train bats to drop bombs.

* While most humans are unable to hear the ultrasonic beeps of bats, some children can. Some moths can hear the ultrasonic pulses of bats and will change their flight path or drop to the ground in order to evade capture. Others, like the Tiger moth, will click back to resemble ultrasonic bat calls to confuse bats into thinking they are another bat.

* The Chinese word for “bat,” fu, also means “happiness,” so bats can be a positive symbol in China. They are frequently depicted flying around the sacred Chinese Dragon.

* Bats are the primary pollinators through most of the tropics and many deserts. Without them, many plants would not survive as a species. Plants that specialize in bat pollination bloom at night. This includes many important fruit trees in the tropics and cacti species in the deserts.

* In Native American cultures, bats flying from their caves can be symbolic of emergence from the womb and are used in initiation rites.

* Bats are frequently found in graveyards and crypts, leading to an association with death.

* In modern culture, the bat is an icon of all things dark and spooky, including Halloween, the Goth subculture and Batman.

* Throughout Europe and Africa, the bat is associated with dark powers and the Devil.

* Thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the bat is associated with vampires, although only a few species drink blood.

compiled from various sources