Due to centuries of myth and superstition, bats are among the world's least appreciated and most endangered animals.
The causes of their possible extinction include vandalism, commercialization of caves, insecticide poisoning and loss of prey, loss of habitat, especially roosting sites and the capture for laboratory use.
Bats are exceptionally vulnerable to extinction, partly due to the slow reproduction rate, most producing only one young annually.
Nearly 1,000 species of bats account for almost a quarter of all mammal species.
Tropical bats are key elements in rain forest ecosystems which rely on them to pollinate flowers and disperse seeds for countless trees and shrubs. Important agricultural plants, from bananas, breadfruit and mangoes to cashews, dates, and figs rely on bats for pollination and seed dispersal.
More than 50% of American bat species are in severe decline or already listed as endangered. Losses are occurring at alarming rates worldwide. Endangered species of Chiroptera in the USA include the Indiana bat, Hawaiian hoary bat, ozark big-eared bat, Virginia big-eared bat, and the spotted bat.
In Britain there are fourteen species of bat, all of which are found on the south coast of England, with only seven or eight in the middle of England and decreasing to two or three in the north of Scotland. This variation is due to the greater availability of insects to feed on in the south, with its warmer climate and different farming methods; and possibly a greater number of roost sites.