Last night we were out with the dogs, just after sunset. We happened to look up, and glimpsed a bat winging by overhead. We stood and watched it for a few minutes, as it soared over the house and flew patterns around the big cottonwoods in back. Then we saw another one, on our side of the house. The dogs were bored, but we were fascinated. We stayed in the front yard and the one from behind the house came back over. We didn’t move, and it got closer and closer to us, its erratic path taking it down almost to ground level, then up, then over here, then darting out there. Wherever the bugs were.
We’re supposed to assume that any wild bat is rabid, in these parts, and to treat them accordingly. If a baby is in a room with a bat, the baby is supposed to be taken for medical care immediately, just in case; the bat’s bite can be so tiny that it isn’t easily seen. So we didn’t want to pet the thing, but we sure liked watching it, knowing it was eating insects. We have enough of those around here, this time of year, that we could feed a platoon of 50-pound bats with 10-foot wingspans (I made that up, but there are bats with nearly 6-foot wingspans—not around here, though). I wanted to invite one of the bats into the house to deal with the colony of moths that seems to have moved in.
They’re fascinating creatures—perhaps especially to someone who’s written as many vampire books as I have, but probably to everyone. They’re incredibly fast, brilliantly agile, with those keen senses that allow them to detect tiny insects in flight. One out of every four mammals on Earth is a bat. Before this summer is out I want to put up a bat house someplace, to encourage more of them to stick around.