Myths and Facts
A look at what is, and is not, true about bats.
Bats are amazing mammals that are critical to many ecosystems around the world. In this section, we are going to clear up some common misconceptions about bats and reveal the truth of their nature.
Myths and Truths
Below are some common myths that have contributed to a negative view of bats.
Myth: Bats are just flying mice.
Truth: Bats are not rodents. Bats are classified in their own order of mammals called Chiroptera, which translates as “hand-wing.”
Myth: Bats aren’t necessary.
Truth: Without bats, humans would be in trouble. Bats help control insect populations, reseed deforested land, and pollinate plants, including many that we eat. Researchers and scientists also learn from bats to improve medicine and technology.
Myth: All bats have rabies.
Truth: Less than 1% of bats have rabies.
Myth: Bats get tangled in your hair.
Truth: Bats don’t build nests and have little interest in our hair.
Myth: Bats attack people.
Truth: Bats are afraid of humans and try to stay away from people as best they can.
Myth: Bats suck blood.
Truth: Most bats are insect-eaters. The one species of bat that does drink blood is the Vampire bat. Vampire bats live in Mexico, Central America and South America. Only 3 of the more than 1,300 kinds of bats in the world are Vampire bats.
Myth: Bats are pests.
Truth: Bats are the ones that eat the pests–insects! One insect-eating bat can eat thousands of mosquito-sized insects in just one night.
Myth: Bats are dirty.
Truth: Bats groom themselves just like cats and are very clean.
Myth: Bats are blind.
Truth: All bats can see. Many types of bats have small eyes and use echolocation to navigate, but they aren’t blind.
Bat Fun Facts
- Bats are the only mammals that fly.
- The order that bats are in is called “Chiroptera,” which means “hand-wing,” because bat wings are so much like human hands.
- There are more than 1,300 different species of bats in the world, making up a quarter of all mammals.
- The smallest bat in the world is the Kitties Hog-nosed Bat, also known as a Bumblebee Bat, and has a 6-inch wingspan. The largest bat in the world, the Malayan Flying Fox, has a 6-FOOT wingspan.
- Bats can be extremely social and most live in large groups, called colonies.
- One insect-eating bat consumes about 2,000 to 6,000 insects EVERY NIGHT.
- Some species of bats can fly more than 50 miles per hour.
- Bats live a long time. Most bats live between 10 and 20 years and some bats can live to be 30 years old.
- Bats do just about everything upside down (except go to the bathroom).
- Bats usually have only one baby a year. Bat babies typically weigh about 25% of their moms when they are born. That’s like a 100 pound mom having a 25 pound baby!