Halloween is getting closer, and so we continue to dig up interesting bits of trivia around some of the most noted and notable traditions and icons associated with our favorite holiday. Without further ado, here are some fascinating bits about bats!
1. While most people associate bats with Halloween and blood-sucking vampires, there are actually over 1000 species of bats, most of which feed on insects, nectar and fruit. Some bats also feed on fish, while only 3 species of vampire bats feed exclusively on blood.
2. Bats are actually mammals, and flying mammals at that. While some mammals, such as flying squirrels, are capable of gliding as much as 300 feet, bats are the only mammals on the planet capable of continuous flight.
3. Most species of bats find their way around in the dark using something called echolocation. Similar to radar, which uses radio waves, echolocation uses sound waves emitted by the bats, who listen for the echo to determine distance and direction of objects in their path.
4. With a lifespan of 20 years or more in some cases, bats may live by themselves in your attic or in a cave with thousands of other bats.
5. Vampire bats have tiny, razor sharp teeth with which they can slice open an animal’s hide — or a human’s skin — without them even noticing.
6. The common vampire bat, known as Desmodus rotundus, and its cousins, the hairy-winged and the white-winged vampire bats, are the only known parasitic mammals. While the other two feed primarily on birds, Desmodus rotundus prefers the blood of livestock. Found mainly in Mexico, Central and South America, this sneaky night prowler uses its razor-sharp teeth to cut open the skin of its prey while they are sleeping, then laps up their blood with its very long tongue.
7. With a wingspan of nearly 5 feet, Pteropus bats, also known as flying foxes, are the largest species of bats in the world. Fortunately for us, they are NOT related to vampire bats and only feed on nectar and fruit.
8. Even before Bram Stoker’s Dracula, bats were associated with witchcraft, black magic and darkness, especially in Europe. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, written circa 1603-05, the Weird Sisters incorporate the fur of a bat in their noxious brew. In 1847, the gothic horror fiction novel Varney the Vampire contained illustrations of the main character sporting a pair of bat-like wings. Much of vampire fiction since then is heavily influenced by the character of Varney, including Dracula, which came on the scene 50 years later in 1897.
9. Bram Stoker took the bat-vampire connection one step further in his Dracula novel, having his character shapeshift into the form of a large bat on a number of occasions. Real vampire bats, however, are actually quite small.
. 10. Legendary comic book creator Bob Kane attributes part of his inspiration for his Batman series to a 1930 movie called The Bat Whispers. One of the earliest talkies, the film is a remake of an earlier version, which originated with a hit Broadway play called The Bat. Ironically, the bat-like character in these productions is not the hero but rather a sadistic serial killer.
If you like dark places, come on out to Cutting Edge Haunted House in Fort Worth this weekend and channel your inner bat! Students, get $10 off online purchases for Sunday night, October 19th, using the promo code “Brain 33.” Student ID required to enter with discounted ticket.