Sharknados and Lavalantulas are made up nature events that only exist on television, but Batnados are real—they're just not as terrifying as they sound. Filmmaker Kelly Sweet and a National Geographic film crew visited Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas and shot footage of 20 million bats taking to the skies at the same time to feed. The resulting bat tornado isn't as menacing or vampiric as pop culture would have you believe, but it is definitely cool to see from the perspective of someone inside the vortex.
As the video explains, between March and October every year, millions of bats pour out of the cave together each night to hunt. The chaotic scene is bad news for nearby insects—and dangerous for the young bats as well. "They need to make it out without running into other bats or losing their way," Kelly said. "Otherwise, they're going to drop to the floor." The floor of the cave is literally crawling with coachwhip snakes that are waiting for small bats to touch down so that they, too, can have a hearty meal. Those who don't fall still run the risk of getting caught in cacti, and others are greeted by larger predators including hawks as they leave their crowded home.
Kelly says in the clip that she and the rest of the crew were being bumped into by bats, so they decided to lie down on the ground to avoid the traffic jam. Despite being crawled over by snakes and splattered with bat guano from overhead, she enjoyed the experience. "If you really want to see into the animal's lives, you have to go into the animal's world," Kelly told National Geographic. "Having the privilege and being able to go and just experience and document what they're doing is amazing.” Watch the video above to experience the event, sans poop.
[h/t National Geographic]