Archive for the 'Bats' Category

Busting Myths About Bats

Friday, November 4th, 2016
Bats at Devil's Sinkhole State Natural Area.

Bats at Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area.

This is Passport to Texas

Bat have been maligned for centuries.

Most people don’t know anything about them because they don’t have any interaction with them.

Fran Hutchins is with Bat Conservation International.

People know a lot about birds, and most people aren’t afraid of birds because they see ‘em all day long. Bats are flying around at night when most of us are home sleeping. And unless we see ‘em around a street light or dipping down into somebody’s swimming poll to get a drink of water—most people don’t have any contact with bats. So, what they know about them is what they’ve seen on TV. And most of the time on TV—especially if it’s Hollywood—they’re bloodsucking monsters that are flying in and dragging someone off into the tree line and sucking them dry.

There are no blood sucking bats in Texas. And of the 1300 bat species worldwide, Hutchins says only three feed on blood.

The rest of them are insect eating bats and pollinating bats, and fruit bats that are really important to us.

Hutchins adds bats are not blind, they won’t tangle up in your hair, and they do not carry rabies.

People think all bats have rabies—and they don’t. Rabies is a virus that’s out there in the environment that bats, as mammals, can get as we do. They’re not carriers. If a bat gets sick with rabies, it dies.

That’s why we never handle bats that are on the ground. They could be sick. Other than that—they are beneficial mammals that deserve our respect.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Merlin Tuttle is Batman

Monday, October 19th, 2015
Merlin showing free-tailed bat to visitors at Bracken Cave during a National Public Radio interview. Media

Merlin showing free-tailed bat to visitors at Bracken Cave.

This is Passport to Texas

Merlin Tuttle was a curious kid destined to become a scientist. He lived near a bat cave in high school and started making observations.

13- I found that the bats came in the spring and the fall, but were not there any other time of year. Yet, when I identified them, the field guides that I had said that this species of bat lived in one cave year round.

He wanted this misinformation corrected.

16-So, I caught some. I actually made specimens of a couple of them so that I could prove that I had what I said I had. And convinced my mother, just as a teenager, to drive me to the Smithsonian so I could tell the guys that wrote the books that there was something wrong.

So began a 55 year career that’s taken Dr. Tuttle around the world studying bats. He’s engages in hands on conservation and public education. One goal: remove the public’s fear of bats.

26-People hear that bats are dangerous–they’re going to cause you to get sick with some terrible malady. But in reality, bats have one of the finest safety records of any animal on our planet of living safely with humans. People like me, I’ve studies bats for 55 years now on every continent where they exist, spending literally hundreds if not thousands of hours actually in caves surrounded by millions of bats. And I’m still healthy!

Merlin Tuttle’s written about his life with bats in THE SECRET LIVES OF BATS: My Adventures with the World’s Most Misunderstood Mammals. It comes out this week.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.