Question: What do spiders, snakes and bats all have in common?
Answer: Aside from the thought of them giving you goose bumps, they also all roamed the earth with the dinosaurs!
Even though they might freak you out, these creatures have been around for millions of years and all of them play really important roles on our planet. Plus, theyâ€™d probably have some pretty cool stories to tell if they could talk. How many other animals can say theyâ€™ve hung out with T. rex and Pterosaurs?
Take snakes, for example: They gobble up all the rats and mice that eat our crops and cookies and carry dangerous diseases. Without snakes to help keep things under control, weâ€™d be living in a world overrun with rodents. Yikes!
- Did You Know: Snake venom can be used to treat everything from cancer to heart disease?
As for spiders, most of these little creepy crawlies arenâ€™t even poisonous. They help control bug populations by eating up annoying mosquitoes, and their venom has also been used in medical research to help control diseases.
So now that youâ€™ve decided snakes and spiders arenâ€™t so bad, are you ready to take a different look at bats? For anyone whoâ€™s seen Underworld or Dracula, you might think bats are just undercover blood-sucking vampires.
The truth is that bats are actually pretty shy creatures. You may not want to come face to face with one in the corner of your attic, but if you did, they probably wouldnâ€™t even bat an eye. They prefer to munch on insects and can easily eat thousands of pesky mosquitoes every night.
Bats are also pollinators, meaning they help plants and flowers grow â€“ just like bees and hummingbirds! On top of all that, bats are an indicator species, meaning if you catch them snoozing under the roof at your cottage, itâ€™s a sign that the surrounding environment is healthy.
Like most animals on the planet, all of these creatures face a lot of challenges. Habitat loss threatens the survival of all kinds of snakes, as well as some spider and bat species.
Pine snakes, like our very own Fantom, are being squeezed out of their habitat so that houses and farms can be built. Bats are also at risk from pesticides!
But the biggest danger is something they have in common â€“ human fear.
Some people think that because bats, spiders, and snakes arenâ€™t as cute and cuddly as a koala bear or baby seal, they donâ€™t deserve our help. That’s just crazy!
If you want to make sure these incredible animals stick around for a few more million years, here are some actions you can take:
- Build a hibernaculum for snakes (a cool underground winter hang-out). Learn how on the Toronto Zoo website.
- Learn more about endangered and threatened snake, bat and spider species… then spread the word about how they arenâ€™t as scary as some think.
- Encourage your parents NOT to use insecticides, which are harmful to bats.
- Grab a parent and get them to help you build a bat house. Check out Hinterland Whoâ€™s Who for instructions!