Long the symbols of the frightening night and vampire myths, bats have gotten a bad rep.
Contrary to pop culture belief, bats don’t aim to suck your blood and generally creep you out. Yeah, they might invade your attic crawlspace from time to time, but they are actually some of the most interesting and helpful creatures on the planet.
In fact, they’re actually pretty cute. Just look at this video of Batzilla the Bat, who is just the most adorable “menace” out there.
Not convinced on the helpfulness of bats apart from their cuteness? Here are 15 bat facts to strike your fancy, and hopefully convince you that they’re not just Dracula’s pals.
1 A single little brown bat is capable of eating up to 1000 mosquitos in one hour, holding a life span of almost 40 years. That’s some impressive mosquito crushing.
2. About 25 percent of mammal species is made up of the 1200 known species of bats around the world, though most are fairly small.
3. Bats are actually a lot cleaner than one would expect for an animal that resembles something out of this world. They groom themselves constantly, like tiny cats.
4. One colony of 150 big brown bats will eat up to 33 million or more rootworms each summer, protecting local farmers’ harvests.
5. Woolly bats of West Africa live together in massive webs with colonial spiders.
6. Bat’s incredible hearing, also known as echolocation, is so sophisticated that it can detect a hairlike minnow fin sticking above a pond’s surface at only two millimeters.
7. More than half of the bat species in the United States in particular are listed as endangered or declining rapidly due to loss of habitat or white nose syndrome.
8. They also see a rapid decline in their populations because, like humans, bats only have one pup per year that is highly identifiable to its mother by its unique scent and voice.
9. In an ode to Wide Open Spaces’ home office location, Austin, Texas is a seasonal home to a massive colony of Mexican free-tailed bats, North America’s largest urban colony. They live under the Congress Avenue Bridge and are an incredible summer sight to see.
10. The flying fox bat species is the largest bat known to man with a wingspan that extends just over six feet.
11. The word Bat comes from a Greek word originally meaning hand-wing, which is fitting when one considers the odd anatomical features of the bat’s wing.
12. The myth about being blind as a bat? Slightly false, as all bats can see. However, because their echolocation is so strong, they often don’t need to even use their eyes in particular.
13. Bats that carry rabies are actually incredibly rare, and the rate of occurrence is so small that it is essentially a non-threat to humans.
14. For bats that make it past their first year of life, they are in it for the long haul, often living between 20 to 30 years old.
15. Bat droppings, also known as guano, are amazing fertilization tools, and do wonders to a home garden or agricultural farm.
See? Bats aren’t so bad after all.