Opinion: Driving me batty


All I saw was a blur as the car passed me on the Interstate. “A bat out of hell,” I muttered.

Are there really bats in hell? If so, why are they in such a hurry to leave? And why are bats associated with Halloween, witches and vampires?

If there really are bats in hell, which ones are they? There are more than 1,000 species making up 18 different bat families. They certainly can’t all be in hell. There wouldn’t be any room left for sinners.

All bats are lumped into two categories: megabats (big ones) and microbats (little ones). Even though there are more little ones on the planet, most of the ones we see flying around our backyards at night are big ones. And many of those are little brown bats. One little brown bat can eat 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour. Considering the swatting frenzy I go through on our deck, that is a good thing.

I admit, bats are a little weird. Who else do you know that sleeps upside down and only comes out at night?

Not all bats eat bugs. There are 186 species of fruit bats alone. These guys eat peaches, plums and bananas. The rarest bat is the bulldog bat. There are only two species, and they both have pouchy cheeks where they store food. If you saw one up close and personal, you would agree it kind of looks like a bulldog.

A lot of bats have names derived from how they look. Lump-nosed bats, for instance have, well, lumps on their noses. The funnel-eared bat has goofy ears. There’s the hog-nosed bat, the leaf-nosed bat, the mouse-tailed bat, the slit-faced bat and the smokey bat, so called because of its muted gray fur.

Vampire bats do in fact eat blood. But the good news is, their saliva contains an agent that is used to treat stroke victims.

Bats sleep upside down because it’s the only way they can launch into flight. They can’t take off from the ground because the way they’re built makes it impossible to stand up.

We’ve also been told that bats are blind. Not true. They see perfectly in the dark and also use a form of radar to target their prey. So, if you are blind as a bat, you probably have outstanding night vision.

For bats’ sinister persona, we can blame Bram Stoker for creating Count Dracula. The most contemporary reference to a bat out of hell was, believe it or not, an album by a musician named Meatloaf.

Still, there are way too many drivers going like a bat out of hell.