In light of news of a bat invasion in the Faroe Islands, a neighboring country to Iceland, ornithologist and bat enthusiast Aevar Petersen said Icelanders need not be concerned with an influx of bats. However, he would welcome the winged creatures.
A bat found in Iceland in 2006. Photo by Aevar Petersen.
“We don’t need to worry that bats will settle here, although I’m of the opinion that it would be a fun addition to the fauna,” Petersen told visir.is.
Petersen said that unfortunately, we cannot expect them to flock to Iceland. “They are spotted in Iceland every now and then. They are carried with goods or favorable winds. They often come here at the same time as stray birds that have lost their way.”
Most of the bats that come to Iceland originate in Europe or North America. Their number has in fact increased but Petersen attributes that fact to the increase of vessels carrying goods.
In spite of their reputation, Petersen said bats are sweet creatures. “It’s just in tropical countries where bats attack humans and animals under the veil of night and drink their blood.”
The bats that have come here feed on insects which they catch while flying, he explained. However, the weather in Iceland isn’t suitable for insect hunting as it is difficult to catch them when it’s windy or raining. “It’s the unstable weather which prevents them from settling here.”
Petersen works for the Icelandic Institute of Natural History and receives the bats that are found in Iceland. The last bat spotted in Iceland was caught live in the Westman Islands last summer and was exhibited at the local Fish and Nature Museum for a while.
After it died the bat was frozen and Petersen had expected to receive it for analysis shortly afterwards. However, the bat has yet to reach him. “I have to use this opportunity to advertise for it,” he said.