Called creepy, scary and spooky, bats often get a bad rap. The discovery of the vampire bat in the 17th century happened to coincide with the origination of vampire folklore in southeastern Europe and their image has been tarnished ever since.
Interestingly,of the worlds’ over 1,200 bat species, only 3 are actual vampire bats that feed exclusively on blood. These little guys weigh less than 2 ounces and are only found from Mexico to South America.
All of our planet’s other bats subsist entirely on flowers, small insects, fruits, nectar,pollen and leaves, and are a valuable part of a healthy environment.
Most of them eat mainly insects and are called insectivores. These bats like to eat beetles, moths, mosquitoes,and more. Amazingly, one little brown bat can eat up to 500 mosquito-sized insects in an hour. And some bat colonies have millions of bats!
Fruit and nectar bats, such as our Malayan and Island Flying Foxes – so named for their fox like faces - spread seeds, pollinate flowers, and help regenerate forests.
While bats are so vital to healthy ecosystems and human economies, their populations are declining around the globe, largely as a result of human activity. Sadly, many bats are under severe threat from habitat loss, climate change, disease,deforestation, disturbance and persecution, and increasing numbers of wind farms.
Thankfully,there are organizations like our partner, Lubee Bat Conservancy, that are dedicated solely to protecting bats and biodiversity. All 19 of our Flying Foxes are on loan from Lubee and act as important ambassadors to their species in the wild.
Without bats in the world, entire forests would completely disappear, farms and homes would be overrun by billions of insects, and prominent foods such as chocolate,coffee and avocados would cease to exist. Now THAT sounds scary.
By supporting Oakland Zoo you directly impact the lives of our bats and support our efforts to protect bats, save habitats, and engage the public. You make a difference and we can’t thank you enough!