Living with Bats

We have lived with bats for 20 years. Siding bats we call them as they find shelter in the uneven gaps in the wood siding that covers our house. These little brown bats are seasonal visitors who provide a service to us by eating flying insects (over 1000 insects in one hour). They are agile flyers and you can see them swooping by with Dracula like magic in the night. We use screens on our windows and don’t live quite as porous a life as Gary Snyder “At night the bats dash around the rooms, in and out of the open skylights, swoop down past your cheek and go out an open sliding door.”

We occasionally get a comment that bats carry disease but that has never concerned us as the bats are living in their natural habitat and are not stressed. The little brown bat can live up to 40 years, they lived here before we did, you could call our house their summer house. The little brown bat is small, 7-14 grams, bats in other countries are quite large and are a source of wild food. They are caught, caged and sold in wet markets. Bats are very social animals and have developed immunity to various viruses that they have picked up in their travels and spread among their large colonies. When the bats are packed in cages and piled up with other caged wild animals there is an opportunity for viruses to spread to other animals and then on to humans. This is what is thought to have happened with COVID-19. The intermediary animal may have been the pangolin.

Discomfort Soup

What does it feel like to eat endangered species? Is it a cure or a symptom of the disease? In the late 1800’s Baha’u’llah addressed the human race: “If carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation.” C-19 has given human civilization a chance to pause and reflect on our actions and a horrifying picture is emerging: “if you weigh the earth’s terrestrial vertebrates, humans account for 30 percent of their total mass, and our farm animals for another 67 percent, meaning wild animals (all the moose and cheetahs and wombats combined) total just 3 percent.” — McKibben 2019. While cooking an evening meal I am reminded of how little it takes to sustain life for all creatures, fresh air, pure water, safe shelter, sleep and nutriments. As we move about in our daily lives apply the brake of moderation and remember “That in wildness is the preservation of the world” —Henry David Thoreau.