Did Bat Arts Influence the Negative Perceptions About Bats?

Bats are one of the most detested wildlife creatures, more so now that science points to this animal as carriers of the coronavirus that is plaguing countries. However, science didn’t start the negative perceptions about bats. The idea that bat is evil and frightening mostly originated from ancient artworks depicting bats as belonging to the dark forces of the underworld.

One such example is the statue of a bat god known as ‘Camazotz,’ which archaeologists found in lowlands once inhabited by ancient Mayans. Camazotz as learned from tribal lores was a demonic creature personifying a human-sized bat, largely resembling the bat species populating the jungles of South and Central America and native to the region only.

The clay statue was how Camazotz took protection against sunlight during the day, while waiting for nightfall, so he can come to life and prey on humans. Some old folks in Central America, even believe that Camazotz was responsible for the mysterious disappearance of the entire Mayan civilization.

Most of the clay statues of Camazotz currently in displayed as Mayan artworks in Central American museums, show the bat god holding human remains. Archaeologists who discovered the Camazotz statues, estimated that they came to existence in 300 AD, although it is widely believed that the bat god’s cult came about in as early as 100 B.C.

As stories about Camazotz spread among early Europeans, so did stories about a 15th century Romanian prince in Transylvania known to his subjects as Vlad the Impaler. It was noted that the Romanian folklore was hugely similar to that of the fabled bat demon Camazotz.

In later years, Bram Stoker wrote a novel inspired by folk tales about Prince Vlad whom many referred to as a “dracul,” which in Romania meant “dragon.” After Stoker’s “Dracula” novel was published in 1897, the literary world in Europe soon came out with various adaptations about the blood-thristy Transylvanian prince; mostly about immortal beings who fed on the blood of humans as means of subsistence.

The Real Threats Posed by Bats to Human Life

As bats became more and more unpopular, only a few cared that bat species are being driven out of their natural habitats as a result of mankind’s advancement toward modern life. Biology researchers however called attention to the role played by bat species in ecosystems, as they are among the creatures that help in the propagation of plants and trees as seed dispersers.

Moreover, researchers also pointed out the fact that of the more than 1,300 species of bats that have been recorded, only 3 subsist on the blood of small animals. Now here’s the thing, the three species of vampire bats are native to Central and South America, where the Camazotz tales originated.

If there is anything to fear about bats, it’s the health threat posed by the massive amount of guanos or bat wastes produced by bat colonies. According to scientific studies, guanos tend to produce fungal spores known as Histoplasma. Humans, particularly those with weak immune systems, who unknowingly inhale air polluted with Histoplasma spores, are likely to develop a lung infection known as Histoplasmosis.

Scientists suspect that the coronavirus strain including the new type that caused the COVID-19 respiratory disease had evolved from the Histoplasma spores. One of the theories of how the deadly lung disease SARS of 2012 had spread was through six miners who were tasked to clear a guano-filled cave in China. All six miners subsequently died of the SARS infection.

While bats are also known as rabies carriers, homeowners in North America, particularly in the southwestern regions, are strongly advised against doing bat removal and cleaning of guano infected areas themselves. It’s a must that only those with proper training and expertise should handle bat removal and cleaning of spaces where large deposits of guano were left behind by bats.

In San Antonio, Texas, San Antonio bat removal laws are in place to ensure that those who render such services are genuine experts in their field.