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Looking at a Red Bat, Part II

Sunday, August 25, 2013

We're examining a road-killed red bat found August 15, 2013 along County Rd. 11A in Washington Co. Ohio. 

Oh my gosh, the tiniest most perfect hind feet ever. The claws reminded me of a hummingbird's, and they were extremely sticky--like handling a teasel burr. They were so deeply recurved that I imagined this little beast could hang from almost anything, and red bats do...they hang, usually by one foot, from a leaf petiole amidst vegetation when they are resting. These are largely solitary animals, and their red fur makes them look just like a dead leaf when they're roosting.

I got lost in the tail membrane for awhile. It hooked into a curve to make a sort of pouch.

Ventral surface, the membrane curved toward you. That's the bat's tail in the middle.

Here, I'm holding the membrane open with my fingers--you can see them through it. I'm so impressed by the heavy fur on the membrane. You don't see that on other bats. This, of course, is the bat's insect-catching apparatus--they collide with and dump moths and beetles into the pouch of the tail membrane, then double over in flight to crunch them down. 
With all that fur, the bat probably uses the tail pouch as a poncho, too.

Very impressed by the length of the tail. It starts up by my thumbnail!

The tail, extended. I'm always disarmed by bats' tiny leg bones, the way they stick out at right angles to the body and are trapped in membrane all around. There's no walking or even shuffling for bats...when grounded they scuttle, hitching along with wrists and paddling with the hind feet. But boy, they can make time that way. It takes some getting used to, watching bats scuttle around your feet. I've had time with them in the flight tent, especially my two girls Stella and Mirabel who got too fat to fly and were reduced to scuttling for awhile.

 This is the bat's belly, or ventral surface, and by the tiny bat junk and its bright red fur I could see it was a male. Females are more silvery-brown than fox red.

There is so much that is marvelous about bats. The amazing elasticity and translucent nano-thin wing membrane, for instance. The crenulation of the lower margin, the way the whole thing puckers like seersucker when the membrane is not stretched into use.

those fine, fine finger bones
so breakable if improperly housed. Bats must always be in padded surrounds in captivity--most people use rubber drawer liner over glass tank walls, or house them in fine nylon mesh reptile enclosures, or nylon picnic shelters, like mine. The big brown bats I've had, though, have been chewers, and would never have stayed in a small mesh reptarium. I'm waiting for one to figure out it can chew its way out of the flight tent, because oh, it can. Shh. Don't tell them that.

Had to have a look at the teeth, a bewitching shade of lavender. Don't worry. I used a pen to pry its lips apart.

There's that coloration on the wing again. Gorgeous.

The fur was minutely spangled with silver tips, like a dusting of stars across its nape.

And now, just so you don't think this sad little wreck is what red bats look like, just so you know what a difference the spark of life makes, the only red bat I've photographed alive, in Clermont Co. Ohio on a beautiful October day. Well, Hello, darling!!

A more perfect, winsome and endearing (furred) creature I've never seen before or since. (I am excluding my two children as newborns from this paradigm).  The story of how he was found, and what a difference he made to many young lives, at this link.

Yes, bats are always better alive than dead. But when we get the chance to sit down and look at one that's dead, we look.


well, the pics are nice, but your verbal description just makes this post 'sing'!
(anytime I get to read the word "crenulation" in a post I'm delighted; love that word ;-)

It's so much fun to read your blog with all the info & the pictures! Thank you for taking the time to do this. I love the link to the older post with the pictures of the live red bat too.

I do survey work and I've come across two. One in Kentucky and one yesterday in Ohio. So amazed by these little guys and their excellent camouflage.

Posted by Anonymous November 8, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Wow. Lester and I adored this detailed entry, Julie! Beautiful, thanks!
Or thanks, beautiful. Xxoom

There is alittle red bat on the wall outside of work. Its been there for a week now is it normal for it to be out in the open or do you think it is injured

Hello Unknown,

It's high migration time for bats, big brown, red, silver-haired, hoary...and they turn up in places and hang for awhile. Nothing to worry about, no need to do a thing but admire him from a respectful distance. Lucky!!


There is alittle red bat on the wall outside of work. Its been there for a week now is it normal for it to be out in the open or do you think it is injured

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