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Batting Lessons

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With just a little more than a week away to Halloween, what could be more appropriate than taking a class about bats?

Not the wooden ones. The flying ones.

A couple of nights ago, I drove to Mather Field, destination; Splash Education Center at Mather Field. It is one of many buildings at Mather Field that once served the Air Force and its military community.

Over 50 of us came to learn about bats at a presentation titled "Going Batty: The facts about bats."

My only experience with them, back in the early 60’s in Prescott, AZ, was throwing rocks toward the bats so we could watch them dive at them using their sonar.

That must’ve been more fun than it sounds because I’ve got a good visual of it in my brain. For a 10 year old it was a blast!

And of course I was a big fan of those black and white movies of Dracula, the vampire.

Corky Quirk, of NorCalBats, a bat rescue and rehabilitation center hooked us into her enthusiasm about the flying rat-looking things!

Here’s some of the highlights of what she talked about:

There’s lots of different kinds of bats and they aren’t are the bad guys like they are depicted in the media.

It appears bats may have evolved on this continent prior to the separation of the continents.

They’ve been around for 55 million years.

They are not related to the rat. DNA studies show they are related to hoofed animals.

We humans are closest to the rat, according to DNA analysis.

Bats, like us, are mammals. Breast milk feeds the young, grow hair or fur, are warm-blooded and are not born encased in an egg.

Most bats give birth to one pup per year. In a cave, there can be 500 pups per square foot.

Four limbs are the basic structure of mammals – two arms and two legs.

The bat is no exception. Looking closely at a bat’s extended wing, you’ll see the arm, wrist, thumb and fingers. "Blind as a bat" is an erroneous myth. They have eyes and most of them see in black and white.

In darkness they hunt flying bugs and their sonar, echo location, is used. Their throat puts out a high pitched click not heard by humans.

Around the world there are more than 1,100 species of bats.

Vampire bats are not in the USA unless they live in a zoo.

Across our continent there are 45 species, in our state, 24 and around our foothills and valley area, there are 16 bat species.

Worldwide, the live on every continent except Antarctic. And they eat insects.

In tropical areas like the rainforest and jungles, as well as  deserts, they eat other things like nectar, frogs and fruit.

Scientist use bats to help disperse seeds in open areas.

Bats use their hind legs, which are connected with skin, enabling them to scoop things up.

See their tiny hind legs? There is skin between them.

Vampire bats, 3" tall, sneak up on a sleeping animal and, using two very sharp front teeth, not fangs, it makes a tiny incision in the hide. They lick or lap up the blood, not suck it.

Three species of vampire bats live in Central and South America.

1,000 bats eat the equivalent of two grocery bags filled with insects each night.

Quirk specializes in bat rescue and rehabilitation. If you see a bat, or any wildlife, on the ground, do not touch it with your hands. Use some kind of container, like a paper coffee cup or a box, to place over it. Call your local wildlife rescue group. They’ll figure out how to get the animal into care.

A bat on the ground has a 1 in 10 chance of having rabies. Do not touch them with your skin.

In downtown Sacramento Quirk says she gets lots of animals that have been covered by a Starbucks coffee cup or food take-out containers.

Quirk can be reached at 530-902-1918

Find out more information at norcalbats.org/

 

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