| Mar 09, 2006

Feature Article - March 9, 2006

Feature Article

March 9, 2006

Batman in Sydenham

by Wilma Kenny

Matt Saunders holds a cut-out of the largest bat in the world, beside an outline of the smallest.


Matt Saunders has been fascinated with bats most of his life: his slides from around the world and lively, informative stories entertained an audience of all ages in Sydenham earlier this week. "Now, you’re experts," he told them: "you know more about bats than most people." And perhaps we did. We learned that bats eat half their weight in insects every night, (that’s the equivalent of almost 300 quarter-pounders for a medium-sized human), but few of those insects are mosquitoes. We just wish they were, but when it comes down to nutrition, there’s very little in a mosquito, even for a bat. All Canadian bats are insect-eaters: vampire bats are found only in South America, and do not gather in large colonies. Fruit-eating bats spread the seeds of many tropical fruits, and are responsible for pollinating bananas, peaches, figs, mangoes, allspice, cloves, cashews, almonds and dates. Flocks of bats have been seen flying at 10,000 feet. Bats don’t get caught in hair, and bright lights don’t drive them out of attics: "wherever you have a bright light, you get dark shadows," Matt observed. By all means, he said, put up bat houses: it at least shows you’re interested in bats. However, bats may or may not choose to use the houses, and even if they do, you may not see them.

The best time to see bats is in the early evening, when they come out to feed: you may be able to attract one for a few moments by flicking bits of sticks in the air, jingling keys, or rubbing a nylon jacket.

When at the end of his talk, Matt turned a little brown bat loose to fly around the room, nobody covered their hair or ran out, although some of us might have done so, at the beginning of the evening. Thanks to the South Frontenac Environmental Association for sponsoring this talk.

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