‘Hanging roomates’ valued by neighbours

Here’s a riddle: What breastfeeds and hangs from my neighbour’s cabin window?
It’s not difficult to guess if you also imagine something furry with ears and teeth.
Yes, you know the answer. There are several bats that hang out next door, making a lakeside cabin window a summer home.
I’m completely fascinated by Little Brown Bats, the most common bat species here in Northwestern Ontario. So much so, in fact, that I’ve put up bat houses, although the bats cluster at the neighbour’s bedroom window instead–up to 18 at a time.
The little Muppet-like creatures hang between an outside blind and the glass pane. The neighbours love them given they are very effective, built-in mosquito zappers.
Each bat, when flying, snatches up to half their body weight per night in insects, with lactating females eating more than their body weight each night.
Visiting the bats, however, also can be interesting for other reasons. They are the most unique species I’ve ever witnessed.
One can’t help but think of mythical vampires when watching the elbowed wings and tiny toes stretch out. Bats are the only mammals that fly, so it stirs the imagination to see a winged animal with such an expressive face.
In particular, I like their shiny black eyes and pointed ears.
Bats are of no danger to people, however. It’s a myth that they get caught in people’s hair and that they often have rabies.
In fact, watching them through the window, I agree with researchers that bats are clean animals. They spend a lot of time grooming.
They are precise in their flying habits, as well. They use echolocation–the echo of sound to determine where the object is, how big it is, and in what direction it is moving.
Occasionally they swoop near a person, but only if it’s to snatch an insect.
In fact, I like to think of them as protective action figures. As they circle about, a little rhyme comes to mind: “Twinkle, twinkle little bat, how I’m happy about where you’re at. Up above the world you fly. Doing good things in the sky. . . .”
And my neighbours (both in their late 80s) also enjoy the bats. They know it’s important to value safe places for at-risk species.
Both have commented that they hope the bats will stay close by, somewhere warm, at hibernation time. Several colonies of bats have been wiped out south of here as a result of the white nose fungus, which slowly starves bats to death.
For the neighbours, it’s no big deal to sacrifice a clear view to outside from the window. They understand that if bats continue to die in high numbers that insects will flourish, which eventually would result in many other negative consequences.
For example, an increased reliance on crop pesticides would increase food costs.
“We enjoy having the bats as roommates, but they mean so much more,” say the neighbours.
Sounds like the neighbours are good people to “hang out” with for sure.

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