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July 2008, Volume 6, Number 7
Bats in the News: Better Than Batman - Better than Batman

Batman’s back and more popular than ever as The Dark Knight movie breaks a slew of box-office records. Bats, it turns out, have a lot in common with the Caped Crusader who stole their name, David Mizejewski writes in the National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife & Weather newsletter.
 
Batman, according to Mizejewski, “is a good guy faced with intense obstacles that sometimes make him an enemy in the eyes of his city. … Sounds like the average bat, if you ask me.” Every night, the newsletter notes, these “little heroes” are hard at work, to the benefit of humans.
 
That is why Mizejewski came up with “Seven Reasons Bats Are Just as Cool as Batman.”
 
Reason number 1: “They take out thousands of pests. While Batman is tough on inner-city pests, a little brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour. And bats don't just stop at mosquitoes; they eat a large number of other insects like beetles and moths that are agricultural pests.”
 
2. “They bring us awesome food like mangoes and tequila.” Many bats are critical pollinators for such economically important crops as durian, mangoes and agave (from which tequila is made). Seeds dropped by bats are essential for the regrowth of cleared land in rainforests.
 
3. “They have an expansive range.” While Batman is mostly restricted to the city of Gotham, some bats can range over great distances, Mizejewski writes, covering “hundreds of miles, hunting for insects, drinking at water holes or pollinating plants. We certainly are being watched over!”
 
4. “They are the ONLY flying mammals. … While Bruce Wayne can glide, bats can really fly!”
 
5. “Echolocation.” The Batman of this latest movie has “something resembling echolocation, but it’s nothing compared to the real thing.”
 
6. “Even their poo is helpful.” Bat guano is not only a great and frequently mined fertilizer, Mizejewski notes, but it is also the habitat for some animal species. That usefulness, he suggests, “is the making of a real hero.”
 
And Reason Number 7 why bats are just as cool as batman: “They help the whole ecosystem, not just one city: Bats are key species to helping their habitats flourish.”
 
“I don’t know about you,” Mizejewski concludes, “but when I shine the bat symbol, … the response I want [is] more bats!”
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All articles in this issue:
Bat-shooting Ban
The state government of Queensland, Australia, is banning the shooting of all flying foxes beginning September 1. And that, says ...

Bats in the News: Better Than Batman
Batman’s back and more popular than ever as The Dark Knight movie breaks a slew of box-office records. Bats, it turns out, have ...

Caveless bats of Ukraine
The plains of northeastern Ukraine are alive with bats during the summer months. But for wintertime, the landscape offers no ...



Unless otherwise noted, all images are copyright ©Merlin D. Tuttle and/or ©Bat Conservation International