I have always been fascinated with bats. I remember going to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico back in the 90's and sitting on a hillside outside the cave entrance and watching thousands of bats come flying out at dusk, it was so cool! Sadly, there is a lot of ignorance about (and so fear of) bats among the general public, maybe this piece from +Mother Jones will give you a better appreciation for and understanding of bats.....
Bat expert Merlin Tuttle explains why we should learn to love the winged mammal.
He won't even get mad if you've tried to hurt one. In his more than 50-year-long career, Tuttle has encountered just about every sort of reaction one could have toward a bat, and witnessed every horrible thing you could do to one. His response? To try to be understanding and then calmly list, as he did with me below, all the ways bats are amazing critters that will, in fact, make your life better.
Since he first discovered bats as a teenager in a cave close to his house in Tennessee, he has devoted his life to them, founding Bat Conservation International, the world's leading bat advocacy group (which he has since left to found Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation); publishing more than 50 research articles on bats; and lending his work to several National Geographic features. Last week, he a released a charming memoir: The Secret Lives of Bats: My Adventures with the World's Most Misunderstood Mammals. In it he recounts his incredible adventures saving the stigmatized species from moonshiners in Tennessee caves, poachers in Thailand, politicians in Austin, Texas, and on and on.
He recently talked to Mother Jones about what makes bats so important, how he started photographing them, and why he is optimistic for their future, despite the continuing threats facing the species.
"In 55 years of studying bats on every continent where they exist, dealing with hundreds of species, sometimes surrounded by thousands, even millions at a time in caves, I've never once been attacked by a bat, I've never seen an aggressive bat, and I've never contracted any disease from a bat."
"I was rather shocked to find that after all my efforts to get people over their fear, they were going to put that kind of picture with my story. They agreed that that wasn't a good thing and sent one of their staff photographers to go to the field for month with me to get some good picture of bats to go with the chapter. But bat photography is difficult, it's definitely not easy. And in that month he just got three pictures that were really useful for the chapter, and by that time he realized there was as much involved with knowing bats as with knowing photography, and while he was with me I had hardly let him rest for a moment without asking him how and why he was doing what he was doing. So when he left he said look, you know what I know about photographing animals now, I've got some spare leftover film, let me leave it with you and why don't you go out and buy yourself a little bit more equipment and see what you can contribute for the book. And I ended up being the second-most used photographer in the book."
"It's so easy to change people's minds about bats when you are armed with pictures. For kids that love dinosaurs, the dinosaurs all died out, there are bats still alive that are just as fascinatingly strange as any dinosaur, and yet if you like panda bears or something else that's cute, there are bats that'll run them stiff competition, too."
"I came back a month later to do some more research and he on his own decided that each of his bats was worth 5 bucks, and, by George, anyone got near to doing anything bad to his bats was going to have a big problem with him.
"That's how it works, being able to listen to people no matter how crazy their fears are and trying to stand where they're coming from, and then instead of getting upset when they tell you they've been killing them all their lives, just point out that we've all made mistakes in the past and that I'm not worried about what they've done in that past, but I assume that now that they understand bats, they'll probably have a different attitude toward bats in the future."