PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — You know it’s Halloween, but did you know this is also “National Bat Week?”
Spokesman Henry Kacprzyk enters the “bat cave” at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.
“In this cave, we actually have over 1,100 bats,” he says, as the tiny mammals fly around him.
“They live in these large colonies,” he adds. “And if I get close to them, I might be able to grab one and give you a close-up view of a bat.”
He catches a Jamaican fruit bat.
“You can look at the nose,” he says. “That leaflike appendage serves two purposes. It actually uses it for ecolocation, like a radar dish. It picks up sounds that bounce back.”
It also provides a sense of smell. The myth about bats being blind is not true. In fact, they’re very helpful little creatures.
“The bats we have here in Pennsylvania are actually insectivorous bats,” Kacprzyk says. “And they can eat 2,000 to 5,000 insects a night.”
The scariest thing about bats has nothing to do with vampires.
“White nose syndrome has devastated the population of bats, particularly in the Northeast,” says the zookeper. “We’re seeing some caves lose 90 percent of their bat population due to this fungus that grows on the nose.”
He says that could be a tremendous loss. Even the zoo’s tropical fruit bats are a benefit to humans.
“If you like things like tequila, bananas, mangos, here’s the guy that does the pollination for that,” says Kacprzyk. “Who doesn’t like a margarita once in a while?”
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