Fear of bats

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Fear of bats, sometimes called chiroptophobia (from the Greek χείρ - cheir, "hand"[1] and πτερόν - pteron, "wing"[2] referring to the order of the bats, and φόβος - phobos, meaning "fear"[3]), is a specific phobia associated with bats and to common negative stereotypes and fear of bats.

Roots and misconceptions[edit]

Contrary to a widespread misconception, only three species of bats feed on blood, and these species only live in Latin America. Common ignorance often leads to misidentification.

At the same time, the fear of bats may be naturally reinforced by the natural startle response experienced by an unsuspecting person, e.g., when a disturbed colony of bats dashes out of a cave. In fact, the majority of bats, specifically the microbats which make up the majority of species, are terrified of humans and see man as a potential predator; bats disturbed in their roost instinctively flee as fast as they can, with maternity colonies sometimes abandoning their babies since they are desperate to escape.

Often, people fear bats due to the possibility of contracting rabies, but only 0.5% of vampire bats carry rabies.[4]


As is common with specific phobias, an occasional fright may give rise to abnormal anxiety that requires treatment. An abnormal fear of bats may be treated by any standard treatment for specific phobias. Due to the fact that the fear is not life altering, it can usually just be left untreated.


Building on the fear of bats, vampires in stories and films are often portrayed as being able to transform into bats for locomotion.

A modern example associating fear with bats in fiction is DC Comics' Batman. In many adaptations, Batman is said to have chosen to emulate bats to strike fear into the hearts of criminals. In the film Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne, Batman's secret identity, actually develops a fear of bats as a child when he falls into a cave and is attacked by bats. Ra's al Ghul makes a grown up Wayne conquer his fear. One of Batman's enemies, the Scarecrow, is also mentioned as being afraid of bats, or more specifically, of Batman himself.

In Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls the titular character is revealed to have chiroptophobia despite his otherwise strong affinity for animals.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ χείρ, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  2. ^ πτερόν, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  3. ^ φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  4. ^ Fenton, M. B. 1992. Bats. New York: Facts on File
  • Merlin D. Tuttle, America's Neighborhood Bats (1988: ISBN 0-292-70403-8) (2005: ISBN 0-9742379-1-4, ISBN 0-292-71280-4)

External links[edit]