Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Friday, July 29, 2011

”Eye of newt & toe of frog, Wool of bat & tongue of dog, Adder's fork & blind worm's sting, Lizard's leg & owlet's wing, For charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell~broth boil & bubble" ~ Macbeth.

I have a problem with Hendra.  It's carried by bats & I'm actually very fond of bats.  Not that I used to be, mind.  They were black & scary with spiky nobs on their joints & I, who don't like small fragile things, used to be pretty freaked at having one anywhere in my vicinity. 

 I do actually feel the same way about birds.  They are so small, so light, so very, very fragile.  Not that bats tend to hang round me.  They prefer the gum blossom & fruit trees but I once got to know a bat very well indeed & the hysteria surrounding Hendra now just makes me very sad.  I do understand people come first but the mindless hatred is very hard for me to understand.

It was winter, just as it is now.  We had had days of bitter westerlies & it was so cold even my hardy children had confined themselves to the house.  We were all going a little stir crazy but as I loaded my Liddy in the car to go pick up the boys from school she insisted she could hear something crying.  We took a short walk & found a tiny bat clinging desperately to a very thin sapling that look set to snap in two at any moment under the small weight of the bat.

I knew nothing about bats except that their mamas carry them on their backs & that this one looked too young to be without his mama, so I very firmly insisted it be left where it was because the chances were that the mama was on her way back for her baby & it is best not to interfere in nature if at all possible.

 My horde was fascinated & kept taking surreptitious peeks to see if mama bat had returned to claim her baby yet.  As dusk fell & the thermometer plummeted with no mama bat in sight & the thin wails of bubs carrying all too clearly on the icy air my children became frantic.  It was so small, so helpless & it was a going to freeze to death if I didn't do something.  Naturally it would have to be I to do that something.

Rather tentatively I went to investigate. Black.  Spikes.  I shuddered while huge black eyes regarded me trustfully. It did not, as I was rather hoping, take fright & fly away. As I was to learn, it was far too young to do anything of the sort. Unhappily I gathered it up in my hands to return to my clamouring children & learnt the most surprising thing about bats; their skin is as soft & delicate as silk! Tacitly it was gorgeous to touch. At that point some of my fear dissipated.

The second thing I quickly learnt is that bats are just as smoochily cuddly as cats & are very, very companionable.  Our little friend was only really happy being cuddled & carried around so I grabbed an old cloth nappy [diaper if you're American] & he snuggled while I dragged out the phone book & began the convoluted process of finding someone in the wildlife business who knew something about bats & was prepared to send someone out in the morning to pick up our guest. I did eventually get onto:   W.I.R.E.S ~ who were not as well organised back in the day.  From them I learnt our friend was very young indeed & that young bats never leave their mother for any reason.  Without help he would most certainly die.

By then the boats had already stopped running for the night so I made inquiries as to how I should feed our guest.  Next problem; we did not own an eye dropper.  Not even one off a food die bottle or old ink dropper.  Nothing.  I mashed up some fruit as instructed & considered my problem. Now my Poppy was a cattleman; dairy to be exact, & if you have ever been on a dairy farm when the poddy calves are being weaned you will know it's a very earthy process.  I stuck my fingers in the juicy pulp & the bat grasped one firmly & sucked as if sucking the life out of a teat.  Obviously starving!  My children were charmed & begged for their turn.  Jossie asserted his right as eldest & I duly instructed him in how to encourage the bat to latch on.  Shrieks of horror ensued as Joss realised it was easier to get a bat to latch on than it was to get one to disengage!

I spent most of that night cuddling a bat that became distraught every time he was pegged in his nappy to the indoor line.  He was only really happy being held & was embarrassingly affectionate.  They would make wonderful pets!  However it is not wise to domesticate wild things & so the first boat next morning I took our friend to the mainland to be collected by the W.I.R.E.S people for rehabilitation.

The thing is animals are not responsible for us; we are responsible for them.  It is our duty to find ways of managing our wildlife to our mutual benefit & to go on a killing frenzy out of fear seems to me a very defeatist attitude.  Bats have their place in the ecology of things, helping pollinate all sorts of things that need pollinating, & quite frankly, given we are responsible for the Fall & the consequent judgement on all creation, the very least we can do in compensation is not give way to knee~jerk reactions when problems arise.  Who knows what sort of damage a massive cull of bats would do to our already fragile natural environment.


Jo said...

I read in the paper today that around 1/3 of Queensland bats had the hendra virus. I wondered what would happen to the bats now.

Julie said...

Aside from the very sad virus information, this could be revised to be some kind of children's book, Ganeida. Beautifully written, and successfully persuasive! I wrinkled my nose when I started reading, and by the time I finished what you wrote I wanted to cuddle a bat. Now *that's* a superb writer.

I am sorry about the Hendra business though. Every time we turn around there's something to remind us that this is not paradise, that we are fallen and so is our beautiful world, and the best and the perfect are yet to come. Love and prayers to you today.....

Anonymous said...

Hi Ganeida,
Just popping over to read and try to catch up on a little news. I do like your new fresh look!
I am sad to see I have not made the Fab Friends category though :-(

Anonymous said...

That is Ruby by the way!

Ganeida said...

Ruby, ♥
Not to worry I am still tweaking & blogger hates me just now.:( You will get there just as soon as my server will let me tweak. I am not a computer wizz & I do get me in a tangle! You are not the only one. Surprised there aren't more complaints! lol