Chiroptrivia 2006

Created Jan 2006
Last updated Oct 2009

“Life is a beautiful and strange creature that appears at a window, flies swiftly through the banquet and is gone.”  The Venerable Bede

and there can be few more strange and wonderful creatures than a bat.So this section is dedicated to the strange and wonderful things which make bat group members laugh, agree with or wonder at. If you have something you’d like to post here, quotations, facts, trivia or whatever email us

Ilustration Joan Childs

It was once believed that owls would tear the hearts out of bats and leave them in their nests to protect their young

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Folklore says that a bat landing on your head would not fly away until it heard thunder… and if you find one flying indoors, it predicts rain.

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We are reliably informed that the one food that SAS members won’t eat when lurking in the jungle is bat

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The Dragon Robes of the Emperor of China often had bats embroidered on them as bats are a symbol of good fortune

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In chinese the word for “bat ” and the word for “happiness’ are the same and pronounced “fu”
An old chinese character for bat looks very batlike.

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Seattle’s Bat Northwest’s website contains the following gem.
“Every night the bats of Bracken Cave consume 440 000 lbs of insects. This is equivalent in weight to 352.000 grapefruits, 880 tigers, 110 giraffes, 6 fully laden eighteen wheelers lorries or 5,500 bales of hay”

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A female bat gives birth to a baby which weighs between 12 and 48% of her body weight. By way of comparison, if Kate Moss were a bat, her baby would weigh between 12 and 30lbs
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Photo Jude HIrstwood

The shape of the upper window frames on the ground floor at Gaudi’s Casa Battlo in Barcelona are said to be based on the shape of a bat’s wing. (Look closely)
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Photo Jude Hirstwood

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An excellent way of locating a Noctule’s roost is to look for urine stains on a tree. Noctules produce copious amounts of urine and don’t seem to mind staying in urine soaked places.
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Photo Jude Hirstwood

The fur of a captive Noctule is a darker red colour than its free living relatives. It is thought this is because it’s fur does not get bleached by repeated contact with urine
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Bats knees bend backwards  More
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Photo from Bristol Bioacoustic lab

The shortest latin name for a bat is Io ia – The Great Evening bat Photo from the Bristol Bio acoustic research site

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Tequila is produced from the agave plant which is pollinated by bats.In traditional Mexican communities agaves were known as the shamans’ tree because they were the only people allowed to drink it, as it gave access to the spirit world. The nearest ordinary people got to drinking it was by drinking the shaman’s urine. Click here for more on the agave/bat connection


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The word “bat” came from the norse word “bakka” meaning bacon. This is because sides of bacon used to be hung from the ceilings of smoke houses and looked rather bat like. Germans use the word “Speckmaus.” Schinkenspeck is the German for bacon
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Hiroshige “Men chasing bats” (detail)

“Darting here and there
the bat is exploring
the moonlit plum”

Taniguchi Buson (1717-1784) click here For more of Buson’s work
Click here for more examples of bats in literature

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Common_Vampire_Bat

Allen in 1939 reported the following event in Mexico. A local monk was suffering from a violent fever and was at death’s door. He was not expected to last the night – and yet he survived.“It seems” wrote Allen “ that his feet had been left uncovered and during the night a vampire bat had entered his room, tapped his blood and reduced his fever”

There is no information provided as to how the bat fared.

For more on vampire biology click here.

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“A bat is beautifully soft and silky; I do not know any creature that is pleasanter to the touch or is more grateful or caressings, if offered in the right spirit.
Mark Twain

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