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psychonaut
10-28-2006, 02:38 AM
Bats are kind of cute. The ones that eat fruit are probably easy to feed, and the ones that eat insects would be helpful to have around one's home. Are bats kept as housepets anywhere? If so, what special care do they require? If not, what prevents them from making good pets?

spingears
10-28-2006, 08:41 AM
Bats are kind of cute. The ones that eat fruit are probably easy to feed, and the ones that eat insects would be helpful to have around one's home. Are bats kept as housepets anywhere? If so, what special care do they require? If not, what prevents them from making good pets?In my estimation there are better pets to deal with. Aligators, crocs, lions, hyenas, etc. ad infinitum.

Are You Bats About Bats? (http://newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/zoo00/zoo00001.htm)

LawMonkey
10-28-2006, 11:24 AM
As the link says, if you're into bats, the best thing to do is build a bat house and plant stuff that will attract bat-food, i.e., night blooming flowers to attract insects.

They are kinda cute, though. :)

AskNott
10-28-2006, 11:46 AM
When I bought a bat house, the Q & A with it talked about capturing a few bats and moving them into your bat house. The reply said it was illegal to move bats from one place to another.

I got my bat house about 12 years ago, and haven't had any bats living in it. It is mounted at the top of 15 foot 4'x 4' pole. Farther down on the pole are 3 bluebird houses, which have never housed anything but sparrows. The bat house has never held bats, but this year a woodpecker pecked an entrance hole at the top. The woodpecker never got to live there, though. You guessed it, there's a family of sparrows in there.

Oregon sunshine
10-28-2006, 11:59 AM
What prevents them from being pets? My guess is that there's no way to guarantee they are free from rabies. Bats often carry rabies and bat-related rabies are responsible for most recent human cases in the US (FromThe CDC rabies site (http://cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/bats_&_rabies/bats&.htm).

lissener
10-28-2006, 12:23 PM
What prevents them from being pets? My guess is that there's no way to guarantee they are free from rabies. Bats often carry rabies and bat-related rabies are responsible for most recent human cases in the US (FromThe CDC rabies site (http://cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/bats_&_rabies/bats&.htm).
This is pretty close to irrational, all due respect. That's like saying there's no way to guarantee that dogs are free from rabies. Most major zoos keep bats, and I can guarantee you that it's just business as usual to keep their bats free from rabies.

The greatest obstacles to keeping bats are practical. What, hang em from a hanger during the day and get up to feed em in the middle of the night? Zoos have full-time staff and specially designed environments. If you were Bill Gates you could probably build a bat room in your house, and set the lighting cycles, etc. to be opposite. Don't forget there's no Bat Chow on the market, so you'd have to have enough knowledge--and time and resources--to prepare a balanced diet. Etc. etc. etc.

Know why dogs and cats are the most popular pets? Cuz they're the easiest.

Colibri
10-28-2006, 12:39 PM
What prevents them from being pets? My guess is that there's no way to guarantee they are free from rabies. Bats often carry rabies and bat-related rabies are responsible for most recent human cases in the US (FromThe CDC rabies site (http://cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/bats_&_rabies/bats&.htm).


Bats and rabies (http://batcon.org/home/index.asp?idPage=91&idSubPage=62)

I don't think there's much more chance of a pet bat transmitting rabies to an owner than any other free-ranging pet. If you kept a bat indoors, rather than let it roam free, and it didn't have rabies when you got it, it wouldn't be a danger for transmitting rabies.

Although bats are regularly kept in captivity in zoos, there are a number of reasons why bats wouldn't make good pets, as a general rule.

1) If you let them roam free, they probably often wouldn't come back; and in this case there would be a certain danger of picking up rabies.

2) If kept indoors, they would require a large flight cage. Most people don't have this kind of space. (True, they could probably be kept in a canary-type cage, but this really wouldn't be very suitable.)

3) Insectivorous bats would be difficult to feed in captivity. Fruit-eating bats would be easier, but in either case the droppings would be more objectionable than those of birds.

4) Although I personally like bats, there are relatively few people who share the OP's opinion that they are "cute." They at best would be a niche market.

AskNott
10-28-2006, 12:56 PM
I agree that bats would be high-maintenance pets. Though they are cute, they aren't cuddly or affectionate to humans.

Bat chow is not hard to find, though. Any bait shop will have crickets and/or larval forms. Around here, it's bee moth larvae, but other places favor wax worms or (shudder) maggots.

Wildlife photographers use a little pneumatic launcher to get pix of bats capturing food on the wing. They load a larva in the popper, hit the switch, and a bat will be there in a flash, scooping up the bug with a wingtip and passing it to the mouth, faster than you can see it without a camera. It's a lot of work, every night, just to feed your bat. The bat needs to eat its weight in bugs every night to survive.

DocCathode
10-28-2006, 01:41 PM
Unless things have changed snce the book on bats I'm reading was written, insectivorous bats have an unfortunate habit of dying unexpectedly. Some will eat bugs from the floor of the cage. Others require hand feeding.

Fruit bats do much better in captivity. However, keeping any bat is a pet is prohibited by US law. There are exceptions for zoos, researchers, and educators.

Considering bats reputation as good luck in China, I never understood why bats aren't kept as pets there. Glover Morrill Allen does mention some groups keeping megachiroptera (flying foxes and other big bats) as family pets in Samoa (or somewhere).

Colibri what makes you say they'd fly off and not return? While I defer to your expertise (besides your degree, Panama must provide all kinds of bat encounters). Allen agrees with you that bats show no love for their keepers, but he quotes several people who disagree with him. Is it a matter of bats not being able to find their way back?

DocCathode
10-28-2006, 01:45 PM
Are You Bats About Bats? (http://newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/zoo00/zoo00001.htm)

I disagree with the assertion that "they are not and will never be friendly." . Allen says the same thing in his book Bats. But he also quotes from the diary of a woman who kept a pet bat, and the unmistakable signs of affection the bat showed. In another case he recounts how somebody's pet bats loved to be taken for walks in pockets and to snuggle underneath their collar.

Broomstick
10-28-2006, 01:46 PM
Flying foxes - an Aisan fruit-eating group of bats - have been kept as pets. They aren't real common, there's a lot of bias against basts, and they (apparently) generate droppings as do birds - in quantity and all over. I've also heard they're trainable. But a lot of places forbid keeping bats as pets.

In any case, they're not domestic animals. If you want a flying pet I'd recommend a domestically bred parrot, of which there are many varieties to choose from.

DocCathode
10-28-2006, 01:49 PM
In any case, they're not domestic animals. If you want a flying pet I'd recommend a domestically bred parrot, of which there are many varieties to choose from.

I want both, darn it. I want to hold out my hand and call and have a budgie land and perch on my hand, and a bat fly in and hang upside down from my finger.

psychonaut
10-28-2006, 04:07 PM
I agree that bats would be high-maintenance pets. Though they are cute, they aren't cuddly or affectionate to humans.What evidence do you have for this? There are over a thousand species of bats, which I imagine must show considerable variation with respect to traits desirable for domestication. It is true that most wild animals are not cuddly and affectionate to humans, but this can be mitigated or even reversed through socialization from an early age and from selective breeding. Individual foxes, skunks, coatimundis, squirrels, raccoons, polecats, minks, and beavers have all been kept as pets and turned out to be extremely cuddly and affectionate. In some cases (foxes and skunks) there have even been long-term selective breeding programs to produce populations which are uniformly cuddly and affectionate.

psychonaut
10-28-2006, 04:26 PM
Although bats are regularly kept in captivity in zoos, there are a number of reasons why bats wouldn't make good pets, as a general rule.

...

2) If kept indoors, they would require a large flight cage. Most people don't have this kind of space.Would this really be such a problem? Most people who keep large birds (parrots, etc.) don't have large flight cages. I knew someone with a huge cockatiel which was extremely affectionate and didn't really care for flying. It simply walked around the house on its legs. The front door was often open, and the bird liked to fly up onto the porch railing and watch the world go by, but it never flew away. When it was done it would just fly back down and walk back into the house. Anyway, wouldn't most bats be manoeuvreable enough to fly around a house?
3) Insectivorous bats would be difficult to feed in captivity. Fruit-eating bats would be easier, but in either case the droppings would be more objectionable than those of birds.Excepting rodents, I haven't met a mammalian housepet yet that wasn't possible to toilet-train. Bats are probably closer to rodents than most other housepets, but then again, so are rabbits, and they can be litter-trained. Do you have first-hand experience in attempting to toilet-train bats, or are you just speculating?
4) Although I personally like bats, there are relatively few people who share the OP's opinion that they are "cute." They at best would be a niche market.Yep, but I'm willing to wager the number of people who find bats cute exceeds the number who find scorpions and tarantulas cute. After all, except for the leathery wings, fruit bats are essentially furry little animals with vaguely dog-like faces. If there's a pet market for an animal as maligned as skunks (and there is a pretty big one -- Google for "pet skunk"), then there probably could be one for bats as well, provided they're not difficult or impossible to care for.

Colibri
10-28-2006, 05:15 PM
Would this really be such a problem? Most people who keep large birds (parrots, etc.) don't have large flight cages. I knew someone with a huge cockatiel which was extremely affectionate and didn't really care for flying. It simply walked around the house on its legs. The front door was often open, and the bird liked to fly up onto the porch railing and watch the world go by, but it never flew away. When it was done it would just fly back down and walk back into the house. Anyway, wouldn't most bats be manoeuvreable enough to fly around a house?

Parrots are social animals, and often recognize their owners as members of their social group or even mates. Because of this, they will often stick around, even when they have the chance to fly away. While it may be possible to socialize a bat so it doesn't fly off, even parrots often escape from their owners if given the chance, so I wouldn't count on a bat not doing so. And sure, bats could fly around a house, but few people would really want them doing so. (Most owners of pet birds keep them in cages, after all.)

Excepting rodents, I haven't met a mammalian housepet yet that wasn't possible to toilet-train. Bats are probably closer to rodents than most other housepets, but then again, so are rabbits, and they can be litter-trained. Do you have first-hand experience in attempting to toilet-train bats, or are you just speculating?

No, I have no such experience, nor want any. Good luck on that. :)

Yep, but I'm willing to wager the number of people who find bats cute exceeds the number who find scorpions and tarantulas cute. After all, except for the leathery wings, fruit bats are essentially furry little animals with vaguely dog-like faces. If there's a pet market for an animal as maligned as skunks (and there is a pretty big one -- Google for "pet skunk"), then there probably could be one for bats as well, provided they're not difficult or impossible to care for.

I'm sure you have identified the next hot new thing in the pet trade. Go for it. I'm sure they will out-do Vietnamese Pot-bellied Pigs in a few years. ;)

The Flying Dutchman
10-28-2006, 05:39 PM
I always think of bats when I think about rabies. I've seen them up close too and though I like pets, Nothing could induce me to keep a bat.

QUESTION : How do bats get rabies ? I often considered transmission was directly into the circulation system. Like dog bites.

River Hippie
10-28-2006, 08:25 PM
I often catch stray bats in my house. It starts with the dog or cat waking me up in the middle of the night with thier attempts to capture the bat. I put on some thin leather gloves and grab a towel or something to knock them out of thier circular flight path around the room. Once I actually get a hold of them, they are pretty freaked out at first but often settle down fairly soon and realize that I'm not going to eat them. I have stroked thier little heads with my (gloved)finger and they gradually cease trying to bite. I release them outside right away but I can see how if you worked with one long enough it might grow accustomed to human contact. I once caught a bat in a mousetrap on the floor behind the refridgerator, that was baited with peanut butter so i suspect they could be more omnivorous than is commonly thought.

lissener
10-28-2006, 11:06 PM
Would this really be such a problem? Most people who keep large birds (parrots, etc.) don't have large flight cages. I knew someone with a huge cockatiel which was extremely affectionate and didn't really care for flying. It simply walked around the house on its legs. The front door was often open, and the bird liked to fly up onto the porch railing and watch the world go by, but it never flew away. When it was done it would just fly back down and walk back into the house. Anyway, wouldn't most bats be manoeuvreable enough to fly around a house?As Colibri pointed out, bats aren't birds, let alone psittacines. You really can't predict one animal's behavior patterns based on an entirely unrelated animal; bats are about as closely related to birds as you are.

Renee
10-29-2006, 01:38 AM
I often catch stray bats in my house.


Do you have some gaping holes in your walls that you need to close up or what? No screens on the windows?

Broomstick
10-29-2006, 07:52 AM
Would this really be such a problem? Most people who keep large birds (parrots, etc.) don't have large flight cages.
The "flight cage" for my parrots is actually the interior of the house - I give them a daily opportunity to fly about and get their exercise. (They sleep in the cage and stay there when the humans are out or I'm cooking in the kitchen) It wouldn't surprise me if the owners of pet bats do the same.

River Hippie
10-29-2006, 09:37 AM
Do you have some gaping holes in your walls that you need to close up or what? No screens on the windows?

Indiana bats don't don't need much of a hole to get in, they're really small. They get in to the attic and have some access point to the rest of the house that I haven't found yet. I don't really mind them living in the attic, they eat lots of mosquitos.

elelle
10-29-2006, 08:26 PM
I think bats are quite cute, and incredibly interesting, and, I'd probably let one fly around my house given the chance. I really like them. But, that would be unfair to the bat, who deserves a life of high-flying bug eating joy. One of the batspects I love is their free flight, up and yond, darting and dashing, hell, I wish I could see or hear their sonar in all that action!

Somehow, I can't see reducing their incredible sonar skills to the confines of a mere room or two for life. Would that be crazy-making for them? Are there studies of bats in captivity where they go--literally--batshit crazy due to confined spaces?

I know they roost in attics, but that's their rest space. They get out and about during their active hours.

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