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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about... vampire bats.


CURWOOD: Summer is here. The time is nigh to huddle around the old campfire and tell some scary stories. One of the best, Bram Stoker's Dracula, was published 99 years ago. While it's a wonderful yarn, the tale of the undead Transylvanian prince permanently and unjustly ruined the reputation of bats in general, and vampire bats in particular. Vampire bats actually pose no danger to human health. In fact, an anticoagulant from their saliva may soon be used in human medicine. We might all do well to emulate the vampires, which adopt orphans of their species and have been known to risk their lives to share foods with less fortunate roost-mates. Bats also play important roles as pollinators in desert and tropical ecosystems. While not a major factor in decreasing the number of insects, a single brown bat can catch 600 mosquitoes in an hour. Bats are at risk of extinction, in part because of their slow rate of reproduction. Most produce only one offspring a year. Nearly 40% of all American bat species are in severe decline, and many are already listed as endangered. And for this week that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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