Ms. Mallory Adventures on Good Morning San Diego: Bats

There are 47 bat species in the US, and 21 of the 23 in San Diego County are insectivorous; the other two species eat nectar. (No bloodsuckers )

San Diego County is home to the largest bat in North America, the Western mastiff bat, which has a wingspan of over 22 inches (56 centimeters), Mallory Lindsey explained on Good Morning San Diego.

Myth: Bats aren’t blind.
Fact: Bats’ eyes are small and sometimes poorly developed, but they work just fine. Megabats—larger bats that include fruit bats—search for food using sight and smell. Micro-bats—which include the smaller, familiar snub-nosed bats—mainly hunt by echolocation.

Myth: All bats carry rabies.
Fact: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 5 to 6 percent of bats captured for testing have rabies. That said, as with any wild animal, don’t handle bats unless it’s necessary. Most bat researchers say 1/10 of 1% (or .1%) of the entire bat population may carry the virus.

Myth: Bats want to nest in your hair.
Fact: Bats may be flying in close, but they aren’t interested in your hairdo. They are more attracted to the bugs that are following your breath (yes, mosquitoes are attracted to the air you are breathing out) and the moths following your flashlight.

Myth: Bats want to suck you blood.
Fact: There are only 3 species of vampire bats in the world and none are regularly found in the US. Most love eating pesky insects.

Myth: Bats are bad to have around.
Fact: We need bats! Bats are responsible for pollinating trees, flowers, and cacti. They spread seeds so plants grow in new areas. Bats pollinate avocados, bananas, breadfruit, dates, figs, mangoes, and peaches. These remarkable mammals live together by the millions, and each can eat half its weight in insects a night, so they are great at controlling large numbers of pests that harm crops and spread disease- like West Nile Virus.

Bats need our help. White-nose syndrome is a major threat to our bats. It is a fungus that grows on bats in the U.S. while they hibernate. According to the Organization for Bat Conservation, white-nose syndrome has killed 5.7 million bats in the northeastern U.S. since 2006.

How to help. Contact a local nature center or park to find out if there is a bat club in your area, or join Bat Conservation International. You can start your own club, help protect local caves and other roosting areas, or build a bat house for your yard or neighborhood.

Categories: Good Evening San Diego, Good Morning San Diego, KUSI