Com-bat-ing stereotypes: University professor breaks down batty misconceptions
The Saskatchewan Science Centre is clearing up misconceptions about bats after releasing eight out of 11 that were in care over the winter at the centre.
During the winter, Regina residents are encouraged to report a bat in their home or in a garage to the University of Regina. The school then gives the bats to the Science Centre to house the animals for the winter.
On Wednesday, the centre released eight bats that were in care.
"They are healthy enough to fly on their own and get their own food and hopefully make their own colony or join a new colony in the city or around the city," said Saskatchewan Science Centre Animal Technician Jacklyn Waronek.
"People think they're all carriers of rabies,” University of Regina Biology Professor Mark Brigham said. “Some bats get rabies, but like humans, if they get the virus that causes rabies they die from it very quickly and they very rarely pass it along. As long as you’re not bitten by a bat, you have no chance of getting rabies.”
Brigham adds bats keep down the unwanted insect population because they eat their weight in insects every day.
“People think they're blind, they're not blind, all bats can see. People think that all of them suck blood; only three species out of the 1300 eat blood. They're not found in Transylvania, they are found in South and Central American those species."
Another misconception about the species is whether they will fly in your hair. Something Brigham said likely won’t happen.
“We get called very frequently by someone who has a bat doing laps in their living room, they don’t want it in their house understandably so we go and rescue it and the Science Centre folks help us out immeasurably because they then look after those animals for the winter,” said Brigham.
Brigham said if you do find a bat in your house, you should treat it differently depending on the season.
“If it’s winter time, and it’s below zero and a bat turns up in your house or your building, then give us a call at the university, we will come and get it,” said Brigham. “But if it’s nice out, so from middle of April until Thanksgiving, and the bat is flying around, wait for it to settle, get a towel, drop the towel over the bat, take the towel outside and shake it. It probably wouldn’t hurt to wear a pair of gloves. Any protection like that will make sure the teeth can’t bite through the gloves. But if you’re not comfortable doing that, give us a call and we’ll shoe it out. Make sure you keep your eye on it because they are very small, they can get into tight space and if it disappears, it’s literally like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
- Based on a report by CTV Regina's Cally Stephanow