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Ryan the Bat, Eating

Sunday, April 14, 2013

There's some kind of golden rule on videos. You keep them under three minutes. You honor the increasingly brief attention span of the average reader. Well. I'm ignoring that today. Animal rehabilitation takes patience and time, and immersing oneself in a bat's world is worth it. So I present a seven minute video (Ack! Seven minutes??) of Ryan the Bat, eating. I like it because you get to see how he moves and how a bat acts when it's relaxed and unconfined. Ryan doesn't mind nestling in my hand, but he also likes perching on the back of my glove. He's got a cool tentlike posture in this video, which is typical of him.

I figure that anyone who takes the time to read my blog in a herky-jerky Facebook world is going to dig watching Ryan as much as I do. So there, Golden Rule of Internet Videos. Whatever.

I'm very thankful that of the two bats I'm caring for, nasty little Drusilla is the one who self-feeds from a bowl. All I have to do for her is drop five mealworms in her bowl and minutes later, day or night, she crawls down and wolfs them down, drinks from her water dish, and goes back up into her towels to sleep away the early spring. The only time I handle her is when I mistake her for Ryan. She lets me know right away I've got the wrong bat. She chomps my glove and vents an ultrasonic string of oaths. That's my girl!

This is Drusilla, showing the wing-spreading defensive behavior of a torpid bat. They'll flip over on their backs and spread their wings while making an eerie, otherworldly squeal. Naturally, I asked Phoebe to take some shots of her spread wings and tail membranes, because they are so beautiful. No, I'm not torturing her. She's just being Dru.

 Ryan has never gotten the hang of self-feeding. Perhaps if he were kept singly he eventually would. Keeping him with Dru, though, virtually eliminates any chance that he'd get to the worms first.
But I like keeping them together, because they cuddle, and bats should be with bats. I don't mind feeding Ryan. I feed the bats only on nights above 50 degrees. As spring comes on, there are more and more of those. Hooray. Let's hear it for warm nights and heady days. They've been a long time coming.

It's tempting to think about releasing them in the current warm spell. And then I look at the ten-day forecast and see a couple of nights dipping back into the 30's, and I'm glad I resist the temptation. Soon I'll set up the flight tent and see how my little darlings do, get them conditioned for release. It's a happy thing to contemplate. Ryan's still holding at 15 gm., and Dru has gained two grams, up to 19. Which, if you'll remember, is the flying weight down to which I finally worked Stella and Mirabel, my overweight little Battista Sisters of 2012. Sofa pillows! I look at pictures of them before their diet regimen and laugh out loud. I'm limiting these bats' intake to five worms each, nightly, and soon they'll get a chance to exercise in the flight tent.

So here's Ryan, eating. Enjoy it!


Almost makes me want to try some mealworms on my Raisin Bran this morning (...uhhh... but... not quite).

Last week while it was still warm in Ohio, I saw several bats out flying mid-day--two in Greenlawn Cemetery in Columbus (one of these was dipping down to the pond to drink, presumably), and one near New Straitsville. Is this normal behavior (they seemed to be flying normally)? Or a sign of white-nose syndrome?

Oh, Zick. How I love you.

Yummy love!!!xxoom.

Hi Julie, Such a neat story, and I loved the video of Ryan. He's a cutie!

Posted by Anonymous April 14, 2013 at 12:42 PM

I was mesmerized! By your calm nature and Ryan's eating skills & his beauty.Sure does love his mealworms.And loved the spread of wings by Dru! How do you know how much water to give them?
I'm going to share this with my 4 year-old great nephew!!

He's adorable! He has the look of a medieval gothic church gargoyle come to life. How do you know how many mealworms to feed him? He looks as if he would just keep eating for as long as you kept offering.

Posted by Anonymous April 14, 2013 at 6:31 PM

Only you, Julie Zickefoose, could make people love bats. Thanks for this video. 7 minutes VERY well spent!

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