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Helpful, not haunting: Why bats are vital to our ecosystem

The creepy creatures closely associated with vampires from Transylvania are actually our friends. Here's why bats matter so much.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Step aside, sharks. It's Bat Week, and as we approach Halloween, it turns out the creepy creatures associated with Dracula are more helpful than haunting. 

Did you know that North Carolina is home to 17 species of bats? There are 14 species that call South Carolina home, and health officials say they're vital to our ecosystem. 

Let's connect the dots

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BATS EAT BUGS

One of the best things bats do for people is snack on bugs. Wildlife experts say bats love creepy crawlies, eating their body weight in insects every single day. Which means the bugs won't bother you. 

BATS HELP MAKE MEDICINE

Bat saliva is used to develop medicine. There's a protein in it that can help dissolve blood clots. It's been used for years to help stroke victims, and right now, doctors are working on another drug that could help regulate blood pressure. 

DON'T GET TOO CLOSE

While bats are our friends, you still don't want one in your house. Some bats do carry rabies and you can't tell if a bat is sick just by looking at it. 

So if you encounter an unexpected flying visitor in your home, health officials say to safely trap it in a closed room and call wildlife officials to remove the bat. 

Contact Ben Thompson at bthompson@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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