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
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
NDN Video
Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video Miley Cyrus Hospitalized After Severe Reaction To Medicine Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Toddler climbs into vending machine 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Much-Anticipated 'Gone Girl' Trailer Finally Debuts! (VIDEO) Dog and Toddler Wear Matching Outfits in Adorable Photo Series VP Biden: "World witnesses ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things" It's Official! Michael Strahan Joins "GMA" Blood Moon Time-lapse Actress Lake Bell Goes Topless The Five Weirdest Local Taxes in America
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.