Halloween – Bats
How did those little furry fliers we call bats get mixed up with Halloween? Well, there are several different theories on this that we will look at here.
Ancient Celtic Beliefs
The Ancient Celtics who held annual celebrations called Samhain, held on October 31st. Samhain celebrations marked the end of harvest season. Ancient Celtics also believed that their ancestors spirits could return on this night.
Fearing that these evil spirits could cast curses upon them , they lit large bonfires in hopes of keeping them at bay. Bonfires attract many varieties of flying insects. Just think back to summer nights outdoors around a campfire, forever swatting them away.
Who eats flying insects at night? Why bats of course. So by building fires at night that cause light and heat, which also attracts flying insects, will also attract bats.
Because of the light and insects it attracted, it also attracted many bats. As we all know bats always look more demonic at night. The fires resulted in large groups of bats flitting above them and scooping their prey. Subsequently, the Celtics perceived this to be a sign of the spirits in their midst. The result of this was that they perceived the bat as an evil spirit. Lurking in the dark, and just waiting to reek havoc.
Some Facts About Bats
Truly, the bat is a valuable asset to the eco system. Amazingly, the bat is able to consume over a 1000 insects in one night. A fruit bat’s diet consist mainly of fruit.
Bats are the only mammal that can actually fly, not to be confused with a flying squirrel, who doesn’t really fly but rather ‘glides’. Wing spans vary on bats, with larger bats having wing spans of up to 5 feet, while the tiny bumble bat has a wing span of just 6 inches.
Bats are often thought to be dirty little creatures. Quite to the contrary, bats spend much time grooming themselves and some species even groom each other.
Bats are not aggressive unless provoked but are not something you should catch or attempt to pet. Unfortunately, the bat can carry and spread disease, most commonly rabies.
Since their excrement contains seeds of what they have eaten, what goes in must come out!
Therefore, bat excrement, also known as guano helps to spread seeds for regrowth.
This results in many fruits depending on bats for pollination. Without these night flyers we wouldn’t have an abundance of many fruits, nuts and plants such as bananas and agaves. In fact, without them many plant species wouldn’t even exist.
Bat guano contains a high concentration of potassium nitrate. Also known as saltpeter, potassium nitrate is a valuable resource.
Interestingly, saltpeter can be used to make gunpowder and explosives, and it was widely used in the Civil War for that purpose.
The Good News About Bats
While the images and cutouts of bats will forever be a part of Halloween, clearly they are not as evil and diabolical as they have been made out to be.
The job of the bat is to keep our insect population under control. Also, their guano helps to distribute the seeds of important plants and fruits. Contributing to to the good health of our planet the bat most certainly is a good and necessary part of our lives.
Both afraid of a tiny bat!
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