We all love a bit of a scare and Halloween is becoming bigger and bigger in the UK. Decorations and outfits are going to be everywhere even if we can’t go to parties and trick or treat. But what’s the reality behind the rats, spiders, bats and creepy crawlies and should we be making sure our kids know what’s real and what isn’t?
Let’s start with a big one. Rats have a terrible reputation and are a very common Halloween animal. Models of blood thirsty rats will no doubt be sitting on mantel pieces across the Western world over the next couple of weeks. But what is the reality behind the red eyes and black fur? Well first of all the Black Rat doesn’t really exist in the UK anymore. We have the Brown rat instead.
Secondly, while we may not want them around, rats are sociable, intelligent creatures. They are very very unlikely to jump out at you or harm you by way of direct action. So…not so scary really. Why do we fear them? Well rats do carry disease and they have lived around humanity for thousands of years if not longer. We may well have quite an ingrained dislike of them that protects us from getting ill. Also…the Black Rat did carry the flea that carried the bacteria that caused the Black Death so it’s kind of fair enough. It’s worth telling kids not to hate rats, but it is also important we don’t have them around the house for health reasons! If you find evidence of rats call a pest expert as soon as possible…Halloween or not, they don’t make a great addition to your home.
…and another very popular one. Spiders cause abject terror in a lot of people. Interestingly enough most kids don’t seem to mind them, it’s only when we get older we start to have an inbuilt fear of creepy crawlies. We do have quite a few spider species in the UK and all of them are venomous. They are not, however, dangerous to humans. The False Widow spider can inflict a nasty bite though so watch out for them! Spiders make for great Halloween decorations and they are creepy.
However, the reality about spiders is a lot less exciting and a lot more useful. Spiders are generally not aggressive and they don’t bother us at all. Not like wasps at the end of the summer flying in our faces. Spiders simply don’t come near us. They also kill and eat tonnes of other bugs around the house. If you didn’t have any house spiders you may notice a substantial increase in earwigs, silverfish, flies, mosquitoes and more. The humble spider is out there working hard every day to rid our homes of nasty things so let’s be a bit nice to them shall we. Its great to tell kids how amazing spiders are, and actually having one in the corner of a bedroom is a really handy thing.
We love bats! Well we should! Bats are literally everywhere on Halloween and I don’t mean real ones. Rubber bats hanging from trees, doorways, children, rear view mirrors and more are common place. They all look scary and they all seem to be vampire bats. There are actually 18 species of bat in the UK from the super cute and tiny Pipestrelle to the larger but also cute Greater Mouse Eared Bat. These warm-blooded mammals are furry and basically like flying voles. They are also heros because they eat tonnes of insects. Yet another animal that helps keep us from being literally smothered in flying bugs!
Bats also won’t hurt us…ever! Not even Vampire bats will hurt us. They use echo location to fly without the need for sight; and if that’s not cool enough for you and your kids to love them what is? Bats, in many cases, are very rare and endangered so we need to love and look after them. By all means hang a rubber bat wherever you like but remember the real ones are way cooler.
There we have it, 3 classic spooky animals that are actually not very spooky at all. Bats and spiders are even useful. So, this Halloween why not let your kids know some of the facts behind the scary rubber decorations, they will enjoy it.