Well thanks to the forthcoming Halloween festivities coupled with this years’ hugely successful and still much-talked about movie ‘The Dark Night’ plus decades of countless Dracula movies, bats would normally secure the No. 1 position with ease.
Sadly, these poor creatures have obtained an unjust reputation for not only attacking people, but also getting tangled in their hair and even being virulent carriers of rabies – statements which are simply not true.
The first two accusations are myth and, as for the latter, bats are no more of an additional threat of rabies than any other average mammal.
They are actually a most welcome addition to any garden, feasting on flying insects and providing a highly efficient and free natural pest-control service!
Traditionally, bats love woodlands, graveyards and ancient trees but these fascinating creatures of the night also thrive in our cities and enjoy utilizing our green spaces too.
But one species of local bat are particularly at risk from the domestic cat. The Brown Long-eared Bats (see picture) fly very close to the ground to hunt for insects and sometimes even have to land to tackle their prey, making them extremely vulnerable to attack.
Photo: Long-eared Bat (www.sussexbatgroup.org.uk)
As their name suggests, long-eared bats have strikingly large ears which are three quarters the length of the head and body, and when resting, the ears are actually folded and held backwards.
But what if we find an injured bat? Well sometimes a grounded bat may just be exhausted and need a bit of time to recover with a little help.
It may be wounded or in danger from passing cats so it is better to take it down to your local vet as soon as possible.
Bats are gentle creatures and seldom show any aggression but they are wild animals and may be frightened or in pain.
You must take care not to be bitten so wear protective gloves and handle the bat as little as possible. Most of the UK’s bats have such small teeth that a bite will not break the skin.
Brown long-eared bats can live up to 30 years of age, so as responsible pet owners we can go a long way to helping bat populations live their full lifespan in urban areas.
By simply ensuring that your cat is kept in, an hour after sunset and an hour before sunrise, many bats will have a better chance of feeding and then returning safely to their roosting sites.
If you would like to know more about bats please visit www.sussexbatgroup.org.uk or call the Bat Helpline – 0845 1300 228