Halloween is a time to revel in scary stories and cheap thrills. Unfortunately, a lot of our annual practices end up promoting harmful myths about animals. The truth is that all these creatures have more to fear from humans than humans do from them. These animals really aren’t so scary. In fact, they can be downright adorable.
Because of superstitions about black cats being unlucky, they’re the least likely kind of cat to be adopted from animal shelters. However, not all cultures have felt the same way about them.
• Ancient Egyptians revered cats. The goddess Bast was believed to take the form of a black cat, leading many Ancient Egyptians to own them.
• U.K. legend maintains that owning a black cat is good luck. King Charles I loved his black cat so much that he insisted on having the animal guarded around the clock.
• In England, sailors’ wives believed that owning black cats would protect their husbands while at sea.
• Scottish folklore tells that a visit by a black cat to your porch will bring prosperity.
•Megabats, also known as “flying foxes,” are vegetarians! They live off fruit and nectar.
•Vampire bats are actually nothing like what the scary stories would have you believe. They don’t even suck blood—they lap it up. They don’t attack humans and don’t kill their prey, as they ingest only 2 tablespoons of blood a day.
•Some species of bats raise their young together in large nurseries. Even if there are thousands of bats in a nursery, a mother can always find her baby when she returns.
•There are more than 3,000 species of snakes in the world, and only about 350 of them are venomous.
•Snakes are deaf, and most have poor eyesight. Their strongest sense is that of smell, and they detect smells with their tongue.
•In Ancient Greece, snakes were believed to have healing powers, which is why most health-care symbols include a snake entwined around the Rod of Asclepius.
•According to Chinese wisdom, a snake in the house is a good omen. It means that no one will go hungry.
•Humans aren’t the only ones to use music to set the mood. Certain species of male spiders pluck their web like a guitar to attract females.
•Although spiders are not usually known for social behavior, the whip spider caresses and snuggles with her young.
•A tarantula’s venom has a very low toxicity to humans. A bite would probably affect you in the same way that a small spider bite would.
•The golden wheel spider does cartwheels to escape predators.
Now that you know the shockingly unscary truth about these animals, those Halloween displays will probably seem a bit less spooky!