Common Myths

"Blind as a bat"
Although bats are known for using echolocation (ultrasonic sonar) to travel about and feed at night, their eyesight is also excellent.

"Bats in the belfry"
The belfry is far too drafty. Churches are very important roosting places because they are so quiet, but the bats usually prefer to roost under the roof or inside in the rafters.

"Bats get caught in your hair"
Bats' echolocation is so sophisticated that they can easily avoid spider webs, so missing people is easy! The origins of this myth are unclear, but it is thought that the heat rising from our bodies attracts small insects which fly above our heads and the bats swoop to take them.

"Bats feed on blood"
There are around 1,000 bat species in the world, of which three species in South America feed on the blood of cattle (in the same way that mosquitoes do). All the species in Europe feed on insects. A single Pipistrelle bat can eat 3,000 insects in one night.

"Bats have rabies"
Bats in Europe have been known to catch a virus similar to rabies. Four cases have been found in the UK in 30 years of research (all in Daubenton's bats). There is only a risk if you have to handle bats. If you need to handle a bat, place a box over it or wear gloves to avoid being bitten. More details...

"Bats die after giving birth"
Like all mammals, bats rear their young on milk until they are old enough to fly and catch insects by themselves.

"Bats gnaw your roof timbers and electric cables"
If you have this problem, it is almost certainly rodents in your loftspace. Bats don't need to wear their teeth down, since they are insect feeders. They don't make nests, they just squeeze into existing gaps. And they don't eat in the roost, they fly outside to catch their insects which they eat on the wing or in "night roosts" (in trees or open barns).

"Having bats means you can't do any building work"
Bats are vulnerable and protected by law. This doesn't prevent building work, it just means that the work has to be sympathetic to the needs of the bats. An English Nature licence might be required to ensure that the bats are being properly considered. English Nature will not refuse the work, but might suggest ways in which the bats' needs can be accommodated or advise on the best time to carry out the work to minimise disturbance. More details...

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