SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Bats get a bad reputation when Halloween rolls around, but the mammals are actually way more beneficial than you think. They get labeled as disgusting, spooky and dirty, but the animals play a huge role in the ecosystem in Utah.
I think they are misunderstood, they are nocturnal animals, they just behave so differently. People think they are creepy because they hang upside down, they roost in colonies, but everything they do, there is a reason,” said Janice Thompson, the lead keeper at the Small Animal Building at Hogle Zoo.
In Utah, there are 18 species of bats and none of them suck blood, but they all eat insects. Bats in our state actually save farmers millions of dollars in pest control.
“They are helpful to farmers, they eat moths and insects that destroy other insects that will destroy crops. Farmers can save money on pesticides,” said Thompson.
Fruit bats are on display at Hogle Zoo. Fruit bars are just as important as honey bees when it comes to pollination. The bats have faces designed to capture pollen and transfer it to a new plant.
“They pollinate foods we eat like the cocoa bean so that’s where we get our chocolate, agave where we get tequila, coconut and bananas and a lot of other foods common to us,” said Thompson.
The rabies rumor is blown out of proportion as well, and touching a bat is the only way you can contract the disease.
“Unfortunately, bats are associated with the disease rabies, and less than 1 percent of bats have that disease,” Thompson said.