Amazing Bat Facts   2

  Nearly 1,000 kinds of bats account for almost a quarter of all mammal species, and most are highly beneficial.
   Worldwide, bats are the most important natural enemies of night-flying insects.
   A single little brown bat can catch 600 mosquitoes in just one hour.
   A colony of 150 big brown bats can protect local farmers from up to 18 million or more rootworms each summer.
   The 20 million Mexican free-tails from Bracken Cave, Texas eat 250 tons of insects nightly.
   Tropical bats are key elements in rain forest ecosystems which rely on them to pollinate flowers and disperse seeds for countless trees and shrubs.
   In the wild, important agricultural plants, from bananas, breadfruit and mangoes to cashews, dates, and figs rely on bats for pollination and seed dispersal.
   Tequila is produced from agave plants whose seed production drops to 1/3,000th of normal without bat pollinators.
   Desert ecosystems rely on nectar-feeding bats as primary pollinators of giant cacti, including the famous organ pipe and saguaro of Arizona.
   Bat droppings in caves support whole ecosystems of unique organisms, including bacteria useful in detoxifying wastes, improving detergents, and producing gasohol and antibiotics.
   An anticoagulant from vampire bat saliva may soon be used to treat human heart patients. Contrary to popular misconception, bats are not blind, do not become entangled in human hair, and seldom transmit disease to other animals or humans.
   All mammals can contract rabies; however, even the less than a half of one percent of bats that do, normally bite only in self-defense and pose little threat to people who do not handle them.
   Bats are exceptionally vulnerable to extinction, in part because they are the slowest reproducing mammals on earth for their size, most producing only one young annually.
   More than 50% of American bat species are in severe decline or already listed as endangered. Losses are occurring at alarming rates worldwide.
   Loss of bats increases demand for chemical pesticides, can jeopardize whole ecosystems of other animal and plant species, and can harm human economies.


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