so much better than batman

7 04 2005

i held a bat today.

(i’ve been saying “baby bat,” because it was very wee and very cute and fuzzy, & those are words that go with “baby” (and alliteration), but bats are often wee and fuzzy, & i have no relative scale for how wee to know whether this one was more wee than usual. or more fuzzy. anything resting its fragile little chin on the tips of your fingers while its tiny feet hold so very lightly to the heel of your hand is babyish enough to justify calling it that at least in the moment.)

i was walking in the park this morning–walking! in the park! this morning! before class! without a coat!–and came around a corner on a relatively high, dry spot on the springmuddy trail around the pond at barry park, and there in the middle of the path was this bat, face down and all folded. i assumed it was dead, because bats are not out in the day, and certainly not lying face-down on the ground if they’re not. i also assumed at first that it had been nibbled on, because it didn’t seem to have any wings, just wingbones with a little black… grungy stuff left on them. it’s in my nature to nurture even dead things whenever i can, however, so i grabbed the nearest stick to gently turn it over to see what i’d be picking up before i did so. and turned over, the little bat, who seemed entirely intact, first stretched its head up from its curl and then unfolded its little stick-wings in a long stretch across the ground. the black grungy stuff unfolded like magic and became strong soft skin, nothing at all like the thick stiff even suedey stuff i visualize when i hear “leathery.”

so then i had to pick it up. it’s one thing to leave a dead bat as a potential dogsnack in the middle of the path, but entirely another to consign a live one to such a fate. i was very gentle, in case it was broken in ways i couldn’t see, and also in case it wasn’t, and was about to get fiesty. people say bats bite, after all, although i couldn’t imagine the tiny mouth this one had opening far enough to do any damage to my huge and clumsy human fingers. i was terrified that i would break those magic little wings that folded back into clumps of darkness thinner and tighter than wrinkled tissue paper. the bat helped, though, using those single finger-claws to center itself on my hand with a comfortable chin-rest while i tried to coax its tiny back feet into touching down so it would be less likely to fall. it didn’t move much as i held it up to look more closely, but blinked, its little eyes clearing, and arranged its wing-bones, and breathed through its tiny thin-skin nostrils with no apparent alarm, and when i whispered to it turned those huge and oddly-whorled ears toward the susurration. i’d have held it all day if i didn’t have class to get to, and if i didn’t suspect that might not be the best thing for a bat, really. i wasn’t sure what the best thing for a bat was, but i was positive the path wasn’t it, so i took it into the woods and found a branch to leave it on, one high enough off the ground to not appear as an instant dogsnack but under a leaning tree so it wouldn’t be easily visible from above either. coaxing the little thing off my hand onto the branch was twinge-inducing. i’m sure warmth is welcome to a mud-cold bat, and that being still somewhere warm much nicer than being jarred again; the little feet didn’t let go easily. from a few steps away i wouldn’t even have noticed it, but i can still feel its little shape against my hand, its thicker-than-mousy puppy-soft fur & pliant bug-feet.

i’ve never seen one still enough to look at anywhere but on tv before, and certainly never had one in my hand. i probably won’t ever again. the last thing the little ears turned to hear was my thanks for sharing in a little of the mystery.


disclaimer: i do know that bats aren’t supposed to be lying around waiting to be held, and i’m holding onto the hope that this little critter had just managed to stun itself and will be okay later. it’s probably a delusion, and i know it’s probably a delusion, but i like it. anyone interested in pointing out the pragmatics of the probability that the bat is not okay can go gloom off to deadjournal or something.

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12 responses

7 04 2005
tamnonlinear

Wow.
Poor little wee batty. I hope it will be okay. My family has had a bat or two living under the front porch shutters every summer for decades. I like seeing the little bat pellets on the porch when they’re ‘home’. I like to think we’re their summer cottage.
I did do a quick check to see if bat rescue sites had any particular information, mostly because I was worried about rabies for yourownself, but evidence suggests this is only considered high risk in S. Ca., and only from bites. If you want links, there are bat rescue places in NY but I don’t know where you are relative to them, so I’m not much help there.
I knew a woman who did wildlife rescue, she had a few resident bats who were permanent residents. They were neat little creatures.
Your description is amazing and detailed, very immediate and evocative. I love the description of the little nostrils and other aspects of bat up close. Thank you for writing this.
I hope the bat will be okay.

8 04 2005
tyra

thank you for worrying about me and checking for bat-rabies. he’d have had to have tried really hard, i swear, but he seemed quite uninclined to biting & other forms of rabid behavior. he was quite darling. i’m undecided as of yet about going back that way tomorrow to see if he’s where i left him. i’m hoping he won’t be, of course, so that i can visualize him having perked up and gone on about his merry way. but if he hasn’t, i’d really rather not know.
for future reference, in case there’s ever anything else you want/need to look up to save me from mis-saving some cute fuzzy thing, syracuse is pretty much geometrically in the center of new york.

7 04 2005
cheshirrrecat

my sweet, dearest fairy queen.
i would have carefully done the same and admire you endlessly for taking the time, and having the Love in you, to take care of the darling.
(and i know you know this, but being the super-protective type that i am and not trying to be an alarmist or buzzkill or gloomy or grumpy or lecture-y like that *at all* but) please please please be ultra-careful when handling such things like that, because it is all too easy for *YOU* to be hurt by them, with even the tiniest of bites, or scratches with their saliva getting into them. my friend thia just went through a series of rabies shots because she found a rabid bat in her house. and i Love you too much to have you get sick. see? its secretly all about me. ;}
that being said, much Love to you and strength to the little one to find its way home.
*Kiss*

8 04 2005
tyra

hissssrawr!
(rabid noises)
*hug*

7 04 2005
pictsy

How cool! I hope the wee thing’s okay.

7 04 2005
dolmangar

Cool 🙂 (Manditory danger warning, yadda, yadda, yadda)
Cool.
We once found a hummingbird that got trapped in the garage over night. Since they have to drink necter about every 12 1/2 seconds, it had just enough energy to fly out of the garage, and nose dive into the ground. We picked it up, and managed to get it to lick hummingbird necter (from our feeder) right off of our finger, until it was strong enough to pertch on our hand and dring from the feeder and then fly away.

8 04 2005
tyra

i feel so sad for your hummingbird and its faceplant & glad that you saved it. so sad. except for the part where i couldn’t help visualizing “nose dive” as bird sproinged into the ground, a beak in the dirt, boi-yoi-yoi-yoing. i giggled. i’m terrible. poor thing. thank you for not laughing at it, & saving it instead.

7 04 2005
kerryberry2004

I’m almost certain that most of the bats in this area are insect-eaters and wouldn’t usually bite you unless it got scared. When they swoop, most people think they are attacking, but they’re actually trying to get at all the little bugs flying in the air. (We have a lot of bats hanging under the spire at Crouse… so I’ve tried to learn a little about these things!)
Cheers for picking it up and trying to rescue it 🙂
Kerry

8 04 2005
raeoftirgat

my experience with bats
includes finding one in my mother-in-law’s house. Tir and i had to catch it and encourage it to go outside. We found a large round container and a flat pan to help him into the container. He (it) was perched above the door to the back stairs, and was very reluctant to move. As it was the middle of the day he was rather sluggish. So we ‘trapped’ him with the container and set the pan at the top of the door frame, and slid them together. Once outside he was even more reluctant to move. So we gently prodded him until he spread his wings and leaped into the sky, and disappeared from view.
He was beautiful and wonderful and i think your little fellow was just not a day thing. i hope he is well and safe wherever he is.

9 04 2005
pdxstraycat

“it’s in my nature to nurture even dead things whenever i can”
So you’re finally admitting you’re a necromancer, eh?
–TR

9 04 2005
susanmarie

Be sure to ask HRH Queen, Mary about the bats in her building. Sometimes they snuggle at night between the window glass and screen, so you get a wonderful up-close view on sweet fuzzy snoozing bats.

10 04 2005
vraptorz

Thanks for sharing the wonderful story of the bat. I can just see being there next to you as you picked it up and moved it. That is so neat!
The closest I have come to this is picking up a baby owl one night in Walla Walla years ago. It had either been hit by a car or run into a tree and was laying stunned on the sidewalk. Our Great Pyrenees snuffled it, and I picked it up and wrapped it in my coat. It slept overnight in a box and we took it to the wild bird place the next day. They said he looked unhurt and advised taking him back to the same place the next night. So we did, and put him in the crook of a tree, up high enough to be out of predator range. We could hear parental owls calling, so we hope they found him and set him straight. He was not there an hour later when we went back to check on him.
Somewhere I have a couple of photos of him. I really should dig through that shit that is nearly 20 years old now and look at it again. 😦

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