Did you know that October is National Bat Appreciation Month? I didn’t know it either. In fact, until I did a bit of research, I did not have much of an appreciation for bats at all. I might have put them in a category with snakes, roaches, fleas or most insects.
Well not any more. You might even call me a bat fan now. Before you think I used to be a bat “basher,” just know Batman was always one of my favorite super heroes. Especially the old series from the 1960s. I absolutely loved Batman and Robin played by Adam West and Burt Ward, respectively. Remember those “violent” fighting scenes when the screen would show the words, “Kazam” and “Pow?” Remember the cheesy lines and how Robin was always saying “Holy _____ Batman!” It was awesome. But I digress.
Back to bats. Did you know bats are the only mammals that can truly fly? Fascinating, and I had never thought about that. Bat wings sort of resemble human hands. There are almost 1,000 bat species in the world.
Here is one of the main reasons you should love bats: 70 percent of bats eat insects, and they do so voraciously. They are the perfect, natural pest controls we could ever want in our back yards. There are also fruit eating bats and even carnivorous bats that prey on small mammals and frogs. Who knew there were fish-eating bats?
Of course, since it is the month of Halloween, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention there are blood-sucking bats, aka vampire bats residing in South America. Bats are pretty much everywhere except for polar regions or areas with extremely hot deserts.
Some bats have a sophisticated sense of hearing. Bats emit sounds that in turn bounce off objects, thus sending “echoes” to the bats. The bats can then determine how far away they are from the objects, so they know what to avoid and how to navigate. Amazing.
Some types of bats live in colonies; others prefer a more solitary existence. In the wintertime, some bats migrate, others prefer to hibernate.
At birth, a bat pup (who knew that’s what it is called?) weighs up to 25 percent of its mother’s body weight. Often, baby bats are cared for in a “maternity colony” of sorts. Interestingly, male bats do not help raise the pups.
Because it is Halloween month, and because it is one of my favorite books of all times, I must mention Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Stoker was born in Ireland and after college worked as a theater manager and served as a manager to a prominent actor at the time, Henry Irving. Stoker also wrote theatrical reviews.
He authored other works, but it was the publication of “Dracula” in 1897 that made him famous and created a pop culture character that has never lost its popularity.
Do you remember those old black and white Dracula movies starring Bela Lugosi (1882-1956)? I watched those as a little girl with my oldest brother when he babysat and my parents were out. I did have nightmares, but oh how I loved those movies.
If you have never read Stoker’s classic tale, and if you are a fan of this genre, I promise you will enjoy the book. In honor of Bat Appreciation Month and for Halloween in general, I think I am going to re-watch my favorite vampire movies. I might even watch a few old episodes of Batman and Robin for good measure.
South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.