Photo provided by National Geographic
Sometimes I feel like I have bats in my belfry. I looked up the origin of the phrase, and it is believed to have been coined in America during the early 1900's. The meaning is "crazy and eccentric", and it also refers to having thoughts zipping around in your brain that aren't controlled.
Actually I have seen a rather large number of real bats in my neighborhood this summer. I usually see them in the pre-dawn hour. My neighbor recently found one attached to his screened-in porch and called me over to take a look.
The most common bat in our area is the Big Brown bat. During the non-winter months, it roosts in attics, barns and other man-made structures. Caves are reserved for the hibernation period during the coldest winter months.
They eat insects. I am grateful to see them here because of the amount of mosquitoes they devour.
Bats are not members of the rodent family (many people believe they are related to mice and rats).
Bats are very beneficial and don't deserve the reputation they have - say thank you to Dracula and other vampire movies!
However, NEVER, NEVER, EVER handle a bat. The rabies virus in humans is rare, but almost all human rabies were contracted through an encounter with a bat. If they accidentally make it into your house or garage, attempt to use a broom to capture them on and take them outside. Bats rarely die of rabies but they can carry and transmit the virus.
RABIES IS FATAL. If you have any contact with a bat please consult your doctor. The injections are no longer painful, and are usually injected just under the skin. Most reputable wildlife rehabilitators received preventive vaccines.
Personally, bats are one of my favorite mammals. I just don't like them in my belfry!