Forestry officials say Bats are FRIENDS not FOES


An insight into these woodland creators


by Camellia Wallace

For years the Forestry Unit has sort to educate the nation on the importance of Bat to our ecosystem. Most Recently, the Unit assisting in the publication of a small booklet and a training manual, yet still many see bats as a foe and not a friend. The Covid-19 pandemic has ignited some new fears around the roles of these charming creatures and in an effort to remove these flawed perceptions the Unit is hereby releasing this brief.

Why are bats important

As a keystone species, Bats play a vital role in the pollination of “over five hundred species of plants, it should be noted that some plants rely on them as exclusive pollinators. Some of these plants include cactuses, agave, mango trees, banana, guava, silk cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra), areca palm, calabash and the sausage tree (Kigelia Africana). Some Bats feed on insects and serve as biologically pest control agents. These Bats generally consume more than their body weight in mosquitoes and other destructive agricultural insects, each night. If left undisturbed, farmers and residents alike could easily see a reduction in these bothersome pests.

Common Myths and Misconceptions about Bats

Bats suck people’s blood: Though bats do bite, just like dogs and cats they do not feed on human blood. The vampire bat (not recorded for Antigua or the lesser Antilles) feed primarily on the blood of both cattle and pigs. The feeding process however, does not hurt or harm the animal.

Bats have rabies: Rabies has not been recorded in Antigua and Barbuda, nevertheless, no bat should be handled unless absolutely necessary and then only by a trained professional.

Bats are evil and bring bad luck: Movies such as Dracula has never depicted bats in the best light. These magnificent creatures of the night are no more evil than birds, monkeys or even turtles. Though some cultures embrace the use of bats in ceremonies, the general lack of understanding has caused an irrational fear for these mammals.

Bat love to become entangled in the hair of woman: “Like any animal, when disturbed, bats become panicked and may fly frantically trying to determine how to escape and, in the process, collide with people.

Threats facing Antigua bat population

Bats are the only native mammals in Antigua and Barbuda. The islands have 8 species recorded one of which is endemic to Antigua and Guadeloupe. The ongoing bat assessment and data collection carried out by members of the Forestry Unit, has revealed that the biggest threat to the bats on the island is habitat disturbance. “This comes in several forms, including but not limited to deforestation and degradation of forest and woodlands. The destruction and disturbance of roosts, including caves, ruins and other structures, and the impacts of climate change.

Over the years, residents often complain to the unit of sudden roasting of bats in or near their homes. This can be attributed to either the destruction of a bat roast or a food or water source in or near the residence (fruit trees, mosquitoes, ponds, etc.). Please note that bats are protected by law and it is illegal to kill or hurt these animals. In the event that these harmless creatures become an annoyance, feel free to contact the Forestry Unit for further assistance and or guidance.

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    • They were here long before you and will be long after you. They’re not bothering you…so don’t bother them.

  1. Kill ’em. Kill ’em! Kill ’em all! This demon and disease-infested rodents must die. Ax any obeah man and they will tell you why. The ancestors killed every one of them they saw.

    • Seriously??? Get a grip. These are amazing creatures and do a great service to us all by eating mosquitos and pollinating fruit trees

  2. Sharks keep the ocean’s ecosystem,the vultures are scavengers,natures clean up crew just as the lobsters and shrimps.The rats and rodents are also scavengers in the ecosystem,the termites help to decompose dead trees…please dont kill them for the sake of mother nature,PLEASE

  3. Beautiful article! I’m grateful for the insight on these magnificent creatures! Great job Ms Wallace!

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