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Bat Flying in the Attic



04.18.2005 - Here we have a photo of a bat flying in an attic. As you can see, the bat is flying away from me. It's not as exciting as a shot of a bat flying toward me, but as with most wildlife, this one would rather get away from the large sweaty hairless biped than approach it (note to ladies - I'm not always sweaty, but when in a Florida attic, it's unavoidable). This photo is actually quite rare, at least in Florida, for three reasons. First, it's usually hard to ever capture a photo of a bat on the wing, because they move so dang fast and erratically. Second, if I can capture a shot of a bat mid-flight, it's almost always out of focus. Third, the bats down here, and anyone can see from this photo that we've obviously got a Tadarida brasiliensis, don't usually take to the wing in the attic.

Up north, when I used to work with Myotis lucifugus, I'd see bats swarming around attics all the time. In fact, one of my favorite such moments was standing in an attic with a few hundred swarming all around me. Despite the chaos of the high numbers, the small space, and my presence, I was not brushed once by a single bat. I gained a lot of respect that day for the maneuverability of the bat on the wing. However, the Brazilian Free-Tails usually stick to the edges of the attic, close to the entry/exit points, and don't spread through the attic. Furthermore, they usually wedge themselves into tight gaps - they don't just hang out in the open. And they certainly don't take flight in the attic. They just kind of scuttle about, crawling to the open hole, and then take off.

This particular bat in this photo got separated from the rest of the colony amidst the bat pandemonium that ensued upon my uninvited arrival into their domain, and it had to use emergency measures - flight - to get back to the safety of the group. As it did so, I flashed a shot at it, and luckily, it turned out just fine. But what's that little bit of fluff sticking to the bat's right foot? Could be insulation, but my guess is that it's a little tuft of gray hair from some sweet old woman who the bat flew into. Bats love to fly into ladies hair you know. In fact, that's how I get them out of the attic. I place a bat trap inside a wig on top of a post outside, and they all flock right to it.

UPDATE - I've received many questions as to why I would be doing any bat work after April 15th, the "official" start of the maternity season in Florida. Well, anyone can see that this is a Free-Tailed bat, as mentioned. All the bats in this colony were Free-Tails. The Evening Bat, Nycticeius humeralis can sometimes give birth as early as mid-April. Free tails in this area give birth in early June. Of course, this was yet another house in which the homeowner was ready to hire a pest control company to spray poison in the attic to kill the bats, and I convinced the homeowners that it'd be a smart idea to do otherwise. And a nice idea. Bats are nice, except for that zany attraction to old lady hair. Maybe bats just like the color purple.

UPDATE - I've been informed by Bat Conservation International and the AARP that old lady hair is in fact blue, not purple.

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