Gotham might have Batman, but Ljubljana has the true heroes – bats. In only one hour just one of those small creatures can deal with 500 bad guys – mosquitoes and other pests that annoy us. Bats in Ljubljana play an important part and can be easily observed – if you know where and how to look. I talked to the Slovenian association for bat research and conservation to learn more about Ljubljana’s mysterious inhabitants.
First off, bats in Ljubljana are the good guys
Let’s kick this off with the common misconception about bats – they are dangerous, dirty, they carry diseases, they drink blood. Is any of it true?
I sat down with a few very enthusiastic members of the Slovenian Association for Bat Research and Conservation, who are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. They are running a special project called Bats – Ljubljana’s Mysterious Inhabitants, with the goal of busting the above-mentioned myths and educating people about bats.
They were happy to tell me that bats aren’t dangerous. Furthermore, they are clean animals and in Slovenia there haven’t been any cases of bats carrying or transmitting any diseases.
Because bats feed on mosquitoes and other insects, they are actually great to have around. In just one hour one bat can eat up to 500 of these pests. And their feces – guano is an excellent soil fertilizer.
Bats aren’t blind!
Next, I had to ask about the other common thing I heard about bats. Is it true they are blind and can easily get tangled up in your hair? Because if I am recommending observing them, that’s something that’s good to know.
I was wrong again. Bats aren’t blind, but at night they rely more on their ears. They use a special sonar system called ‘echolocation.’ That basically means they find things using echoes. When they fly they make shouting sounds, which we can’t hear since they are too high. Kids with excellent hearing might be able to hear certain species – since different species use different frequencies. And the echo they receive back from their shouts tells them what is ahead, even if it’s as small as an insect.
So, if you’d like to observe the bats while you are in Ljubljana, you don’t need to worry about them tangling in your hair, they can spot a thread thinner than your hair.
Where can you observe them in Ljubljana?
Ok, I’ve got you as excited as I am, I am sure. And you definitely want to spice up your visit and include bats spotting?
I’ve been told that the best time to do this is in summer at sunset. You want to take a walk by the river, because lots of bats go there to feed. Water attracts bugs and bugs attract bats. Take a stroll from Triple Bridge to Park Špica, or sit by the river and observe, head to Koseze Pond, look under the bridges.
Continue reading the post on Visit Ljubljana’s blog to learn more about bats in Ljubljana. I’d like to thank Simon Zidar from the Slovenian Association for Bat Research and Conservation for providing great photos for both posts.