A Story for the Week-End: An Unusual Visitor
It originally started on a late winter night, with a curious little creature found on the elevator floor. The weird mouse has proved to be a... bat.

Long story short, a friend of mine found him and took him home (apparently, it's a he and, since he is already part of the family, we cannot consider him an "it"). In the first night, he escaped from his box (left open) and hid in the house. He went missing for 5 days, until hunger and thirst won (yes, yes, we are aware of the stories about how aggressive these creatures could be, about them being rabid and so on; our friend got a little bite when she took him from the elevator floor, months ago and she's doing well, with no sign of disease; he was hurt, frightened and in a hostile environment, so she was not that preoccupied about his first reaction; a few days later, they were best friends and he never attempted to bite anyone of us, not even at first encounter).

When we met again, she showed us her little creature. It looked very unusual and I couldn't guess what it was when I first saw it.

We couldn't imagine how he ended up in the elevator, neither. He was not capable of flying, is eating only if one gets the food really close to his mouth and is drinking water from a syringe, so he can't be feral (he wouldn't stand a chance in the wild). It appears like he was wounded at some point in time, as the fur on his neck is missing. Our best guess is that someone had him in the house ever since it was a baby bat (how or why one could get a baby bat is still unclear). Either they wanted to get rid of him or they lost him, when moving from one house to another.

What an amazing creature to study! He prove to be very friendly - once he finds his place on one's hand, he starts investigating the new "surface". After getting acquainted and feeling safe, he goes to sleep.

It is also amazing to see him using the echolocation. Initially we thought he is asking for food, but actually he emits some specific noises and afterwards listens carefully in different directions.

A couple of months passed by and the bat got some home improvements: a bigger box together with some facilities, including some tree bark - he is very proud of this thing that grew in the box, so he spends a lot of time hung on the bark.

Last weekend, his human companions left the country for a 4-day trip abroad. For sure they couldn't pack the bat. So I invited him to spend the weekend with us. First thing he did was to drink water (the 10 minutes trip from his house to ours appeared very exhausting). He slept most of the time, in my hand or on his bark, except for Saturday night, when he evaded again (since the box was bigger than the first one and we felt pity to keep it closed, we didn't use the lid). The bat needed 2 days to understand that there is a way to freedom, so he took his chance.

Even if he couldn't fly, he can crawl and he is an expert in hiding.

Sunday morning, I woke up unusually early and before anything else, I went checking upon him. Surprise! The box was empty. Not to mention that I have made a joke when we decided to let the box uncovered: "what would be the worst thing to happen? if he evades, we will thoroughly clean the living room, as we will move every object in the room, in the search of the bat." Good thing that we kept the door closed for the night, otherwise the search would have been impossibe.

Indeed we have moved a lot of things in the room - we have almost emptied it, except for the heavy furniture (and filled in the remaining empty space in the rest of the house, but it became so familiar to have a lot of staff all over the place...). Of course we haven't found him. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't shout an Aura Whisper, to detect any nearby living creature.

In addition, some human friends wanted to visit us as well. We didn't say no, but we invited them in the bedroom, as the living room was unusable. Actually, a Sunday picnic at the edge of the bed has become pretty common to us, with all the DIY projects going on from time to time. In turns, everyone spent some time in the living room, looking around, maybe the bat was coming out, as he was hungry and thirsty. Obviously, he didn't.

Later that evening, Mihai had a brilliant idea: to look around the pots at the window. Here he was, hidden between the pots and the window, in the empty space between the pot holders. Most probably, he crawled on the curtains up to the pots (it wouldn't have been possible to fly there even if we could, as the curtains were oriented in an unfavorable angle). Of course he was very thirsty and very hungry.

Half an hour, 2 ml of water and a good meal later, he was sleeping in the same uncovered box, as we kept him in the same room with us, until bedtime, but, as sorry as we might have felt, we covered the box for the night, as we wanted to be sure of giving him back on Monday evening, when his roommates were due to come back home.

It happened the roommates were too busy to get him back, so he stayed with us a full week. But what a week! We thought he is not able to fly. Well, maybe he wasn't able back when they found him, and the missing fur on his neck was the proof that an unfortunate event happened to him, but apparently this was the week-end when he was off the hook and remembered how to ...FLY!

We discovered this by chance: on Monday night, we have heard weird noises from the living room - he was very agitated, trying to get out of the box, a completely different creature, a true Jekyll-Hyde transformation. We got a little scared, as we do not know a thing about bat metabolism or disease. We couldn't tell if he is sick or just agitated, if something scared him or else. His body temperature was rising (usually he was colder than my hand, now he was warmer) and his heart beat was increased, too.

The only thing we could do was to take him out of the box. We took him to a more open space, in the bedroom, where we discovered that he was not scared, nor sick; this was the moment when our bed became an airfield. And it was amazing! This little creature, not longer than my index finger, can span his wings up to 20 cm. I still do not figure how he keeps them wrapped along his body, but I am very happy to have witnessed to such a show.

The first night, after 2 take-offs, he got tired and instantly relaxed - reverse Jekyll-Hyde transformation.

The second night, that is a totally different story. I took him out of the box as soon as I got home, to prevent him from getting agitated. Indeed, he wasn't. But only for an hour or two. Afterwards, around 11 PM, he woke up completely. For one hour, he ran on the bed, with us preventing him from falling off and him taking-off, followed by sudden impact with the wardrobe door or window curtains. From time to time, he was staying still, but only for a few seconds (his body temperature and heart beat were telling us that it is not over yet). He even took off hanging on my finger.

Studying his behavior, we have discovered that he is not totally numb - his take-off is coordinated, his flight is straight, he is able to turn. His sonar is not yet working properly, as he is not yet able to approximate the distance to the closest obstacle, but still he is able to diminish the impact with his wings; probably he is expecting a more open space, but at the time our bedroom has been furnished, no one imagined that a bat might feel a little uncomfortable in it.

At the end, he was happy, sleeping on his tree bark, while we were exhausted. Nevertheless, we had the proof on tape: he is able to fly!

Now it is up to his human companions to teach him to eat and drink by himself and to land back in his box.

I can't wait for them to take another holiday! Did I mention that there is fourth roommate, a bearded dragon, even more physically damaged than this third one? The lizard is hibernating deeper than the bat, doesn't eat or drink for more days in a row, so he remained home alone this time. But that is another story.

Published on 21-Feb-2016 © kimica.ro