Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bat Kingdom

After 20 minutes of news I have to relinquish the control to Allison so she can watch a little Animal Planet in the morning. We've all become hooked on Animal Planet these days. I remember one season years ago before Allie when it was the Travel Channel. I think we traveled the world one winter from our family room. But now, it's animals.

This morning: Bats. Thirty minutes of a look into the bat kingdom. Like watching a horror movie--creepy but so intriguing. In a cave in England live 40 million bats. They come out to feed at nightfall where several hawks wait to snatch a few for supper. "Oh no!," Allison exclaims. "Who do you want to win?"
The hawks, I tell her. I like hawks better than bats.

Cut to the rain forest where a group of bats huddle together under a folded banana leaf. Here comes a snake. "Oh no! Who do you want to win?"
I answer, "The bats," wincing. "I hate bats less than snakes.

In Baja bats are prevalent. Our first night in this house we had a bat visitor that clung to our kitchen wall. Small, dark brown, furry. A wall mouse. Spidermouse. It lay very still like maybe we wouldn't notice. It was hard to coax out the door. We had to chase it from room to room dodging it as it flew over our heads.

Since there are caves in the Sierras I imagine some of them live there. We see them every night at sunset. Never in swarms, but sometimes pretty thick. They dart like little birds feeding on insects which is a good thing. They are probably leaf-nosed bats (Macrotus californicus), a Sonoran desert species, though I'm not sure. There is an endangered species in the area that feeds on fish and another type that feeds on cactus fruit. They have long snouts to reach into flowers for nectar like hummingbirds. I've seen photographs of bats suckling from hummingbird feeders. I guess that's kind of cute. Naaah.

Bats. Don't like em. Never will.

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