Bats have been misunderstood and maligned in the West for centuries. Unfair associations with demons have seen their leathery wings adorn numerous evil characters, from the Devil to Bram Stoker's Dracula. But these amazing animals are ecological superheroes. Nectar-feeding bats pollinate important crops like agave; fruit-eating bats disperse seeds and encourage reforestation; and insect-eating bats keep down mosquito populations and other pests, saving agricultural industries billions of dollars. Ranging from the size of a bumblebee to those with a wingspan the length of an adult human, they are the only mammals possessing true flight and are found on all continents except Antarctica.
In Bat Tessa Laird challenges preconceptions about these amazing animals, combining fascinating facts of bat biology with engaging portrayals of bats in mythology, literature, film, popular culture, poetry and contemporary art. She also provides a sobering reminder of the risks bats face worldwide, from heatwaves and human harassment to wind turbines and disease. Illustrated with incredible photographs and artistic representations of bats from many different cultures and eras, this celebration of bats contains much to enthral converts and sceptics alike.
"Bat is an interesting dissection of the many different sides of bats, from both a biological and a cultural view point. The book is full of intriguing, bizarre and astonishing facts about bats, from biology, pop culture, mythology, literature and art. The main focus is on the interaction of bats and human life – the way they are portrayed within different cultures, the effect that has on the cultural opinion and what that means for their protection in the law or lack thereof. Due to the mystery surrounding bats, they are frequently misunderstood and feared. Bats are associated with demons, devils and commonly in modern western culture, vampires. Too often considered demonic creatures of the night, they are in fact major contributors to pollinating the planet and in fact rarely spread disease. Bat is a celebration, showing the positive side of bats and uncovering many of the mysteries they have been shrouded in for so long."
– Hazel Evans, BTO book reviews
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Tessa Laird is Lecturer in Critical and Theoretical Studies at the School of Art, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. Tessa was a noted New Zealand art critic for over twenty years, where she founded two important art magazines in the 1990s, Monica Reviews Art and LOG Illustrated. Her book A Rainbow Reader appeared in 2013.