7 Reasons Bats are Just as Cool as Batman

Batman, the hero of Gotham and star of The Dark Knight, is a good guy faced with intense obstacles that sometimes make him an enemy in the eyes of his city. More often than not, he falls victim to the fact that people tend to scrutinize what they don’t understand.

Sounds like the average bat if you ask me. We have thousands of little heroes saving us every night–it’s just a matter of knowing why bats are just as awesome (even more so) then Batman.

Indiana Bat1. They take out thousands of pests

While Batman is tough on inner-city pests, a 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.

Species like the big brown bat are known for being very helpful when it comes to bug control. The California leaf-nosed bat is so agile, it can swoop down and grab beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers right off the ground.

So if you have a pest problem, put a little bat house on the side of your home and fight off the bugs the natural way!

2. They bring us awesome food like mangoes and tequila

Do you like tequila? How about mangoes? Both of these would suffer greatly if we didn’t have bats. Fruit bats make up about 30 percent of the bat population and play a huge role in pollinating essential crops like agave, from which tequila is made. Seeds dropped by bats can also account for up to 95 percent of forest regrowth on cleared land. In fact, it’s known that more than 300 plant species in the tropics alone rely on the pollinating and seed dispersal of bats.

3. They have an expansive range

While Batman’s range is fairly restricted to the city limits of Gotham, bats have a much more expansive range. Depending on the species, they can cover great distances in a single night, hunting for insects, drinking at water holes and pollinating plants. We certainly are being watched over!

4. They are the ONLY flying mammals

That’s right, while Bruce Wayne can glide, bats can really fly! While you may hear of “flying” animals like squirrels, bats are the only mammals that can truly fly. The others simply glide.

5. Echolocation…that says it all

In The Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader uses something resembling echolocation, but it’s nothing compared to the real thing. A number of bat species have this “feature” built in! Bats that use echolocation often have big ears and really funky looking faces. Those faces help capture sound waves bouncing off of prey and other objects and funnel those waves to the ears. Bats that don’t use echolocation, like fruit bats, actually have big eyes to see in the dark and long dog-like faces (some are called “flying foxes” because of this). Here’s a great shot of one.

6. Even their poo is helpful

To my knowledge, the Dark Knight has never developed a bowel-related superpower (thank goodness). Bat guano, however, not only makes a great fertilizer, it is the sole habitat for some species, like the guano beetle! That’s the making of a real hero—when even poo has helpful qualities.

7. They help the whole ecosystem, not just one city

Bats are key species to helping their habitats flourish. Not only do they eat insects and pollinate crops, but they also serve as prey for predators like hawks and owls.

I don’t know about you…but when I shine the bat symbol, I have a completely different idea of the response I want. I want more bats! Unfortunately, a number of bat species (both in and out of North America) are at risk.

Bats in North America have undergone a dramatic decline due to an epidemic of white-nose syndrome. In some places such as Pennsylvania, little brown bats—once the continent’s most common bat—have declined by as much as 99 percent.

There is some hope for bats in areas where average winter outdoor temperatures are warmer, and scientists are working on treatments for affected bats. But it’s likely we will never see the recovery in our lifetime of some species because their numbers have fallen so low and bats produce only one pup a year. 

Like what you read? Please consider making a gift to National Wildlife Federation to support our work to protect wildlife like bats.