International Bat Week – held during the last full week of October each year -- is an annual celebration of the important role that bats play in nature around the world.
Bats also play leading roles in human culture – they are present in countless myths, folklore stories, and legends. Over the centuries, these stories may have contributed to common, modern-day misconceptions about them:
Myth: Bats are flying rodents.
Fact: Taxonomically, bats and rodents are not closely related. Bats belong to the order Chiroptera, while rodents belong to the order Rodentia.
Myth: Bats will suck your blood.
Fact: Technically, no bats “suck” blood – while three species worldwide do consume (non-human) blood as a regular food source, they actually lap up trickles of blood from small incisions made with their sharp teeth.
Bats are amazing and unique creatures! They are the only mammals that can fly and are responsible for eating billions of insects each night. This helps to control insect populations and reduces the need to use harmful pesticides. Frugivorous (fruit-eating) and nectarivorous (nectar-eating) bat species also positively impact pollination and seed dispersal.
Sadly, bats around the world are facing a number of threats, including habitat loss, disease, and climate change. As a result, many bat populations are declining. International Bat Week is a time to raise awareness about the importance of bats and the need to protect them.
This year, the Wildlife Center is celebrating by sharing educational resources and tips to live in harmony with wild bats, and ideas that you can share with friends and family – go batty!
- Create a bat-friendly garden near your home, no matter where you live. Even small, urban spaces that feature the right plants can attract the insects that many bat species eat. See tips and garden plans created by the U.S. Forest Service.
- Watch and share Untamed Episode Nine: Bats, part of an award-winning series co-produced by the Wildlife Center of Virginia and VPM. Don’t forget to visit the compendium -- a library of materials that support each episode of Untamed, including patient stories and videos, additional learning resources, and worksheets and activities for students -- after the credits!
- Throughout the Center’s 40-year history, many bat patients have been admitted due to preventable human-bat conflicts. Learn how to live in harmony with bats as neighbors any time of the year in the Wildlife Help & Advice section of our website.
- Encourage wild bats to live in nearby natural habitats by building and installing a bat house! Find detailed, illustrated directions and background information in Bat Conservation International’s Bat House Builder's Handbook.
- Donate to the Wildlife Center to provide life-saving emergency medical care for sick, injured, and orphaned wild bats.
Happy International Bat Week!