Do Bats Make Good Pets?
Bats can become domesticated, meaning that they can accommodate to
humans, even becoming clingy and cuddly. But where they can live as
long as 30 years in the wild, their life span in captivity is
usually much shorter. Often, it’s only five or six years and that
alone should discourage people from keeping them as pets. Bats need
to fly and they don’t do well when confined to a cage.
There are more than 1,000 species of bats, 45 of them living in the
United States. Most species are protected by law, with both state
and federal regulations covering their capture and retention and
usually restricting their legal ownership to institutions such as
zoos, wildlife sanctuaries and research facilities. To keep a bat in
captivity, even these entities must be licensed by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture and obtain the necessary permits.
It is widely held notion that bats carry rabies, but in fact, the
incidence is not greater than it is in virtually any other animal
species – as low as one or two percent of the population. But that’s
not the key issue, which is what is best for you and the animal. For
one thing bats are not true domesticated animals and as a result,
they don’t have the normally passive temperament of cats and dogs.
They may be inclined to bite when upset, excited or in pain and if
they do so, they are subject to quarantine and possible
extermination. And you are subject to the conventional rabies
protocol, which is not pleasant.
If you do decide that you must have a pet bat, know that it has
requirements that while easily fulfilled in the wild, can be which
difficult to maintain for a pet owner. For example, feeding: in the
wild, bats can consume 500- to 1,000 mosquitoes and other flying
insects in a single night, in two or three foraging expeditions. The
pursuit keeps their fragile bodies strong while also satisfying the
nutrition demands of their bodies’ high metabolism. As pets, they
will probably have to live on meal worms.
Bats’ living quarters are also a factor. They hibernate during the
day, clustering together and hanging upside down in the roost. They
are highly social, particularly the females, who often form “clubby”
relationships with other females that can endure over many years.
This is their nature, and it is not duplicated in cage life no
matter how carefully they are tended.
So think twice before you take on the responsibility of a pet bat,
legal or otherwise. A bat may crawl on your lapel, but it won’t lick
your hand like a schnauzer.
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