McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Features

October 31, 2013

Afraid of bats? 3 reasons to face your fears

As you head out trick-or-treating or to your costume parties on Halloween night, forget your fears about swooping bats sucking the blood from your neck.

Those are just old Halloween myths, said Jenna Jarvis, an assistant professor of biology at Missouri Southern State University.

"Bats don't want to do that," she said. "They have no desire to get tangled in your hair. As far as humans go, they have absolutely nothing they want from humans."

The critters have certainly gotten a bad rap over the years and are highly misunderstood creatures, said Jarvis, who previously worked with a captive colony of Mexican free-tailed bats as a graduate student at Texas A&M University. Among the most common misconceptions:

  • Contrary to the popular saying "blind as a bat," the mammals are not blind. Although they rely heavily on echolocation, which is the use of sound waves and echoes to determine where objects are in space, they can still see, Jarvis said.
  • Although they can carry rabies, as most mammals can, the disease does not run rampant in them. Less than half of 1 percent of all bats become rabid, according to the University of Missouri Extension.
  • They do not feed on blood — at least not locally. Most bats in North America are insectivores, feeding primarily on flying insects such as moths and mosquitoes, Jarvis said. The blood-sucking vampire bat is native to South America and is typically not interested in attacking humans, she said.

Jarvis said bats are actually an integral, if often invisible, part of the ecosystem.

"They keep insect numbers down, including ones that would be harmful to human health, and they’re beneficial to farmers because they eat crop pests," she said. "Almost the only times bats are going to be a problem is when they get into people's houses, which they sometimes like to do because they're warm and dry and have lots of places to hide. But for the most part, bats really aren’t that big of a danger."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
NDN Video
Under Armour Launches Biggest Women's Campaign with Inspiring Ad NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner was homicide: medical examiner Christina Aguilera Pulls a Demi Moore! Man with no arms throws first pitch Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Is Justin Bieber Dating a Model? Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) 'Sharknado 2:' Hottest Memes Surfing The Net Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Recapping a Blockbuster MLB Trade Deadline Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2"
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.