from inside the earth
rebirth transitioning death
answers with echoes
It’s Bat Appreciation Day…a reminder of how vital they are to ecosystems everywhere. Insect control, pollination, and seed dispersal are all important ways that bats help keep the earth in balance. Many bat populations are endangered for the usual reasons: habitat loss and fragmentation, hunting, disease, use of chemicals.
Bats play an important part in story and myth as well. Because they often live in caves and come out at dusk, bats are associated with the ambiguity of night. Western culture tends to give bats an evil shading (think vampires and the wings of devils), but many Asian and Native American cultures associate them with good luck.
Today also marks the celebration of Haiku Poetry Day. How do I know this? Charlie at Doodlewash is sponsoring a month of celebratory days, and he made sure I knew about Haiku Poetry Day for NaPoWriMo.
…to both Halloween and many ecosystems. They keep insects under control, pollinate plants, and disperse seeds. Seventy-five species of bats are endangered or critically endangered due to the usual: loss of habitat, climate change, disease (in North America white nose syndrome has killed huge numbers and is still spreading), and hunting for food and medicinal use in Southeast Asia.
And Vampire Bats? The species, living in Central and South America, mostly feed on blood from farm animals and birds. And the bite doesn’t kill. The danger comes from the possibility that the bat carries rabies.
Only a small percentage of bats carry rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and cats and dogs are a much bigger rabies threat to humans, although since the advent of widespread vaccinations for pets, there have been very few cases of human rabies in the United States.
You can see my last year’s Halloween bat post here.
The endangered gray bat lives in caves in the southeastern United States. The commercialization of caves has led to human disturbance during crucial times for the bats, such as hibernation or when rearing young. In addition, flooding, both natural and due to reservoir building, has reduced the number of caves available. The use of pesticides and other poisons also has reduced the population.
The only mammal capable of true flight, bats are an important part of their environments. They provide pollination for night-blooming plants, seed dispersal, and insect control, especially of mosquito populations.