“Everything is impossible, until somebody does it.” — Batman
Bats inhabit the realm of impossibility. The only mammal that can truly fly, bats echolocate, sing complex tunes, eat half their body weight in insects each night, reseed forests, pollinate flowers, and are responsible for tequila and chocolate in our lives. Of course, not every bat can perform all feats. However, the more scientists delve into the 1,300+ species in the world, the more impossible qualities they discover.
Shall I go on? Frog-eating bats listen to the mating calls of male frogs to identify edible over poisonous species. The pallid bat is immune to scorpion stings. The vampire bat has heat sensors in its nose leaf for finding just where to suck blood from its sleeping prey.
Bats are badass–and beautiful in ways every mother would admire. Consider this, a mother bat gives birth upside down hanging from her perch. Then, she miraculously catches her “pup” in her wings. She nurses, cleans, and even carries her pup in flight–no easy feat. If my own son weighed a third of my 120 lbs at birth, instead of a mere 7 lbs, I would have struggled to heft a 40 lb baby. To fly with him, too? Ah–the impossibility of bats.
At least 20 species of bats sing like songbirds. Males compose songs replete in trills, chirps, phrases, and innovative rhythms to court females, defend territories, and likely more reasons that we humans are not smart enough yet to understand. Researchers call them bat troubadours and believe their singing may lead to deeper understanding of the evolution of human speech.
In honor of bats and the art of the impossible, I wrote a blog for National Wildlife Federation called: Trick-or-Treat for Bats. Please do take a look. Bats are in serious trouble from white-nose syndrome that has killed millions of hibernating bats, mostly in the east and midwest. So far, Oregon is safe, but may not be for long. The disease is now in Washington. All bats face troubles from our actions as humans, from spraying pesticides to logging the big trees that serve as roosts.
There is hope! Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the treat you can give bats today. It’s time for us to step up and perform the impossible for the bats that are so essential to our lives and our planet.
Note: The photos in this blog come from the USFWS and are all of Mexican free-tailed bats and feature the famous Bracken Cave--the world’s largest colony of bats at some 15 million and one of the biggest congregations of wildlife, too. Find out more about Oregon’s 15 species of bats here.