There are 13 different species of bats that consider Florida home, either as seasonal or year-round residents. Two are on the Endangered Species List: the Florida bonneted bat and the gray bat. / Contributed

Why do bats have such a bad rap? Well, let’s think about it … What’s the first thought that crosses your mind when you hear the word “bat”? A relative to the big-screen, blood-sucking movie star Dracula, perhaps? A prime carrier of rabies? What about home invader?

Most people consider bats a nuisance — case closed. But what I if offer another perspective? Let’s dig a little deeper into the top three nuisance complaints regarding bats:

Blood-sucker: Out of over 1,300 species, there are only about three species of bats that rely on blood for food, and two of those prefer bird blood. Which leaves us with the common vampire bat, native to Central and South America, so no worries for us in Florida. Check out this cool 2011 article about a possible stroke-treatment drug: Draculin.

Rabies: Although they can be a rabies carrier, did you know that fewer than 1 in 1,000 bats is actually infected? Furthermore, rabid bats rarely bite, except in self-defense. Let’s re-visit the old saying, “Don’t disturb a wild animal, and definitely don’t ever corner one.”

Home invader: Bats can fit into openings as small as three-eighths of an inch; therefore, it is not unheard of for bats to wander in to buildings and to take up roosting in attics, chimneys, walls and the like. This can be nerve-wracking, but the situation can be managed with bat exclusions. Please note that exclusions are not permitted from April to August, due to bats breeding. Bats are not flying mice, so you do not have to worry about them gnawing electrical wires or chewing holes.

Health disclaimer: If a bat needs to be handled, never attempt to do so without wearing leather gloves, regardless of whether the bat is alive or dead.  Histoplasmosis is a respiratory infection that is caused by breathing in spores from a fungus that develops in bat guano.

5 Fun Facts about bats:

*National Bat Appreciation Day is celebrated annually on April 17th
*National Bat Appreciation Month is celebrated every October

Additional Resources

Florida Wildlife Extension

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

Florida Bat Conservancy


What to know about bats