The Misunderstood Bats

The Misunderstood Bats
Bats sleeping on a cave ceiling

What animals have been maligned and villainized the most by humanity, yet they are the unsung heroes of the animal kingdom? The Nature Conservancy and Bat Conservation International say the misunderstood bats fit that description. People think that bats hunt human victims and drink blood. On the contrary, Vampire bats do not go after human victims and are shy and gentle in behavior. They also only make up a tiny percentage of the total bat population.

Studies of the Bracken Cave bats in Texas show they eat 140 tons of flying beetles, winged ants, and moths every night, saving a billion dollars in crop damage. That is just in one area of Texas, but other bats eat their body weight in insects every night. Bats also are essential pollinators and disperse hundreds of seeds. Bats are vital to the balance of our natural world, and scientists studying bats tell us that they are declining in number. Can you imagine what life on Earth would be like if we eliminated the animals that eat insects?

As a teenager in southern Indiana, I was a spelunker – one who explores caves. The caves we explored had massive numbers of bats, and several times we were in the caves when the bats were flying out for their feeding binges. I never was bitten by a bat, and they used their echolocation to avoid us. When we found huge piles of bat guano, it never occurred to me that it all came from bugs they had eaten.

God has intelligently designed the systems of life on planet Earth, and we need to care for and protect them. When humans destroy animals such as the misunderstood bats, we invite disaster for our well-being.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: The Nature Conservancy and Bat Conservation International research report released on March 3, 2023