PHOENIX — Heads up Arizona, International Bat Week starts this Monday and is set to last through Halloween. With 28 different species of bats native to our state, it's a whole week to celebrate these creepy-cute sky puppies!
After all, Hollywood has given bats a bad rap. They're not terrifying bloodsuckers, but rather an adorable part of our ecosystem that chows down on dangerous insects and pollinates some of our most helpful plants.
The event aims to raise awareness about the importance of bat conservation, and it's a big deal for our state.
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Bat Week Events
We've got a look at some of the upcoming events going on for Bat Week below:
Kartchner Caverns State Park will be hosting crafts and activities every day from Oct. 24-30. They'll also have a selection of bat-centered books to read.
Admission is $7 for the day, but it's free if you have a tour or camp site scheduled.
The ECO Book Worm Club will be meeting at Piestawa Peak for a book club reading, and then head down to the Phoenix Bat Tunnel to check out the sunset emergence of the bats!
The Arizona Game & Fish Department will be hosting a series of webinars all week long. Researchers and educators are invited to join the organization for educational programs focused on dispelling some of the myths around bats, and showing what's being done to protect them.
The Unlovable Bats is focused on dispelling myths and misunderstandings about these nocturnal mammals.
Creative Conservation: Tracking Bats with Lights is all about the out-of-the-box solutions that are being used to learn more about bats.
Also, don't forget to vote in the Bureau of Land Management's #BatBeautyContest over on Twitter!
We spoke with Kartchner Caverns State Park ranger Rachelle Rentschler to find out more about these nocturnal mammals and the role they play in our state!
With 28 species of bat, Arizona is second only to Texas for how many species are native to the state.
Not only that, but bats are responsible for pollinating some of our most iconic plants. Since the Saguaro cactus blooms at night, they're predominately pollinated by bats that feed on the nectar.
And one for the adults: if you like tequila, then you like bats! They're one of the primary pollinators for the agave plants that are used to make the drink.
Rentschler also added that bats are responsible for pollinating things like avocados, cocoa, bananas, mangoes, and peaches.
Bats may get a bad reputation from Hollywood, but Rentschler assured us that even the three species of bats that feed on blood aren't the bloodsuckers that movies make them out to be.
"They do bite and feed on blood, but it's mostly cattle," Rentschler said. "And it's very small bites, more like a mosquito... It's not like Dracula."
But bats are responsible for keeping a real bloodsucker under control: Mosquitos.
"A single little brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in an hour," Rentschler told us.
Finally, according to the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AZGFD) website, bats are no more or less likely to carry diseases like rabies than any other mammal. It's just that people aren't likely to make contact with a bat unless it's sick.
"A bat that is within reach and doesn’t fly away when approached is quite likely a sick bat. Healthy bats just don’t leave themselves vulnerable in this way," says AZGFD.
So if you do find a bat that seems sick or injured, leave it alone and contact the AZGFD or your local county health agency.
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