October 30, 2003 - Posted at 3:53 p.m. CDT
BLANCHARD SPRINGS CAVERN, AR - Thousands of bats hibernate in the cave at Blanchard Springs, prompting questions and wives' tales from tourists.
But guides try to debunk the ghoulish myths that surrounds the animals and instead teach visitors to respect bats.
Information officer Toni Guinn says guides at the cavern hear the term "vampire bat" all the time and often get questions about rabies in bats, but officials have not found one that tested positive.
The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission reports that between one-half percent and one percent of wild bats have rabies. Skunks and foxes are actually the most common wild animals to carry the disease.
The cave closes some tours from November through March, when the bats hang from the ceiling in hibernation. They pack nearly 300 deep in a square foot, hanging onto one another from the roof a few layers deep.