A tribute to one of the world’s most misunderstood mammals
It is dusk and I’m sitting out on my patio in front of the firepit as I do several nights a week. Dozens of bats can be seen flying above me, erratically dipping and diving and swooping but never running into each other. Sometimes there are great swarms of these night creatures in my neighborhood that make me think of horror movies or biblical plagues, but most of the time I only see a couple dozen or so. I don’t see them for long, as the sky darkens they disappear — or perhaps they simply become invisible to my middle-aged human eyes.
I know that bat populations in my state have declined drastically in recent years due to white-nose syndrome, but I would never have suspected it from my personal interactions with bats over the past couple of years.
In the summer of 2020, my youngest daughter and I found a baby bat in the driveway of the house we were temporarily calling home, after my eighteen year marriage fell apart. I was a newly single mom, door-dashing for cash and homeschooling during a pandemic. The last thing I needed was to find help for a baby bat that had likely fallen from the eaves of the 80-year old house we were renting.
However, since I love animals and couldn’t very well just let the little creature die, I scooped him up in a dishrag, placed him in a shoebox and started calling every wildlife agency in the book. When that failed, I started calling rehabbers. Many of them were overwhelmed during the pandemic and had shut their doors, but I finally found a bat rehabilitation center 50 miles away. By this time, it was a full family event with my teenager and my six-year-old in tow as I drove out of the city and down backroads to find the rehabber’s home. The “center” was an outdoor building on a farm with some heating pads and a refrigerator. The farm came complete with a two-story white farmhouse, barns, horses, a duck pond, and several large dogs who chased my car in and out of the long, winding gravel drive.
I thought this whole bat thing was a fluke until a year later when I bought a home of my own. It seems that the house came complete with a small brown bat living in the front porch light fixture. The top of the light fixture was partially…