Thursday, August 20, 2009
A Bit about Bats
The wind and rain blew so hard last night that, in the morning, on the wet lawn, lay an empty bat house. Farmer Anders and Gemma had an intense discussion about what lives in that small space. Gemma kept asking, what animal lives there? Rather foolhardy, I joined in with an answer - a bat. Of course, Farmer Anders knew that Gemma was looking inside and saw what appeared to be a spider nest. Where's the bat? I don't think any has lived here. What is this for? Bats. One of Pearl's children visiting, also chimed in on our brainteaser conversation: I know what bats are; they are vampires. Gemma said, they are what my brother uses to hit balls. And they live in that little house that fell to the ground. Vampires don't hit balls. Bats, whatever they are, certainly capture the imagination.
This may be because a bat is rather oxymoronic. It's a mammal that flies; it sees in the dark by listening to screams that are silent. Truly, though, this last bit of information makes our “intelligence” seem somewhat second rate. In other words, at a tremendous cruising speed they are able with little or no vision as we know it and in complete darkness to avoid tricky objects and to capture the tiniest of mosquitoes. How? They developed an ultra-complex sonar device 50 million years before we re-invented it.
About the vampire business, this bad rap results from a small group of South American bats. Contrary to popular notion, these creatures are tiny, do not possess hollow fangs for sucking, and do not prey on humans, and live in South America - not Transylvania. The funny thing about these vampire bats is that they make sneak attacks on Brazilian cattle and lap up their blood with their dainty tongues. That's not funny, but what is funny is that prior to this sanguine feast, they land 20 yards from their prey and tiptoe on the ground like giant-eared tarantulas wearing, one can imagine, goofy-looking smirks.
Kind of takes the “oomfff' out of Macbeth's famous recipe concocted by the three witches:
Eye of a newt,
And toe of frog,
Wool of bat,
And tongue of dog.
Wool of bat? You mean that stuff in the bat house?