2. Ok, now for myth number two: all bats have rabies. Rubbish! Although lots of wild animals and dogs carry rabies, it’s rare in bats. One study of 780 bats showed that not a single one was carrying the rabies virus, and a bat expert estimates that less than 1% of bats are infected. So let’s put things into perspective. How many people die in car accidents in South Africa every year? Yes, thousands (although we don’t run screaming from motor cars in horror). Yet there’s only one case in South Africa of a man getting bitten by a wounded, rabies-infected bat. Are we possibly over-reacting?
4. Myth number four is that bats are riddled with insects that can give you diseases. Absolute rot! In fact, there’ s only one type of insect that’s particularly partial to bats and that’s the bat fly. It’s a parasite that – somewhat revoltingly – feeds off the bat’s blood, but it’s very picky and isn’t even vaguely interested in you. It seems, then, that instead of turning up our noses in disgust and accusing bats of being dirty vampires who attack us to drink our blood, we should be feeling sorry for the poor creatures, who are regularly molested by blood-sucking bat-flies.
One thing I have to admit, though, is that bats really do stink to high heaven. I’m told it’s their urine that has that acrid, throat-choking pong. But before you condemn them for disgusting little creatures that hang upside down and urinate on themselves, remember that the totally adorable, cute little bushbaby (nagapie) intentionally pees on his hands so he can mark his territory as he travels through the trees. And we don’t revile him for it.
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