Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's a Batty World

EVER since Emma saw a bat box a few months ago, she's been fascinated by bats. So when we happened to walk out in our garden in the dark and I saw a bat flying overhead, I thought she'd find it pretty cool. WRONG! For the next few days she was petrified of them and made me shut the doors all the time so the bats don't fly in and get her. But gradually the interest is returning, and as she's asking me questions I'm finding I don't know the answers. So I thought I'd look into them a little this evening.

It's probably little brown bats we have in our neighborhood. They are brown, and 2” to 3” in length with a wingspan of 9" to 11”. Little brown bats begin foraging for food after sunset, flying 10' to 20' above ground searching for flying insects. They can eat as much as half their weight each day in mosquitoes, beetles, moths and other insects. Bats navigate by sending out high squeaks that bounce back to them from things that are in their path, a process called echolocation. They roost in hollow trees, caves, rocks and sometimes buildings, using hooks on their hind legs to help them hang upside-down. The mama bat usually has one baby in May or June. At the beginning she's into babywearing, carrying her infant in flight for a week or two. This gets old pretty quickly though - after two weeks she hangs the baby up while she goes off for food, and by three weeks the young'un's on his own. It's a tough world out there.

My next step is to get hold of a copy of Stellaluna by Janell Canon, the story of a baby bat who grows up with a family of birds. Maybe a bat finger puppet to join Emma's growing collection of animals for storytime will help dispel the fear too. Hmm... so many fun possibilities.

Five Little Bats

Five little bats ready to soar,
One flew away and that left only four.
Four little bats hiding in a tree,
One flew away and that left three.
Three little bats looking down at you,
One flew away and that left two.
Two little bats hiding from the sun,
One flew away and that left just one.
One little bat hanging all alone,
He flew away and then there were none.

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