Murciélagos – Bats

I’ve seen bats in the evening for as long as I’ve lived here but I never had a chance to get a good look at them, until recently.

One night the power went out. Maybe we left the doors open at some point? I don’t know, but the next morning one of the bananas in the kitchen had been nibbled. Joel put it outside. We have a terrace that goes the length of the house. The front part is the carport, the middle, enclosed part is the laundry and storage room, and the back part is my outdoor office, dining room, social space, or whatever use we need at the moment. We have a couple pails on the washing machine where we put vegetable and fruit scraps waiting to be taken to the compost pile. The nibbled banana was put next to the pails and we didn’t think anything more about it.

That evening we happened to have some cyclists staying here. We were eating dinner on the terrace and this bat started flying over the table, through the laundry room, and around and around. Finally we realized what it was doing when it landed on the banana. It kept coming back to the banana to grab another bite until it had made the hole considerably bigger than before.

I saved the rest of the banana and put it out again the next night. Sure enough, the bat and a buddy came to visit. The next night it was three or four. They fly so fast sometimes it’s hard to tell how many their are unless they all happen to be in the laundry room at the same time, but we seem to have between two and four visitors every night.

Of course, out comes the camera. It is surprisingly difficult to get a decent photo of these little guys. they are in almost constant motion!

I must have snapped sixty pictures, and my efforts were rewarded with a couple almost decent ones. It’s interesting that I tried standing in the laundry room not 5-6 feet from the banana and they paid no attention to me.

Of course, nothing can give the feel for our bat experience like a video!

You just never know what is going to go on around here. It is now 10PM and the bats are back, flying around and around. It looks like only two of them but they have managed to eat half of an entire banana while we were watching TV. There is also a huge waved sphinx moth who came flying in here making a heck of a racket, bumping into everything in sight. It’s as big as a humming bird and just as noisy! It finally settled down on the floor next to me where it’s been for a couple hours.

915moth1

And, even more fun, the toucans have been visiting my neighbors’ papaya tree! They say the birds have been there pretty much every morning and sometimes at other times. I saw one fly in front of our house yesterday afternoon but it went into the tree where I couldn’t see it any more. I will, of course, keep my camera handy at all times just in case I get a chance for a lucky shot.

I have been cautioned by many of my Facebook friends about the bats. There are vampire bats in Panama but these are not them. Vampire bats hunt only in darkness (which is why Cedo’s calves and pigs on the farm sleep under lights to protect them). I had a hard time finding good statistics on line, but one I found said there were only 4 incidences of rabies between 1993 and 2002. Rabies vaccinations are not recommended in Panama unless you are working with wildlife in the wilderness. My neighbors are very concerned about various things here – snakes, fuzzy caterpillars, various insects, some plants, etc but I have never heard rabies mentioned, nor do they seem concerned about the bats.

As for moving in to the house and making a mess, there is a whole neighborhood of houses at their disposal but I have never heard of anyone saying they had bats in the house. We are right next to a large wooded area and I’m sure they have been living there for years, and I’m not too worried about them moving in here. Besides, what bat in its right mind would want to listen to Joel’s guitar all day when it is trying to sleep?

If you really want to freak yourself out, google “megabat” 😀

 

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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8 Responses to Murciélagos – Bats

  1. Sunni Morris says:

    Kris,

    You are funny! Do you think bats are in their right mind? I wonder.

    We have them here too just as dusk is coming. They live in all the alcoves out back in the desert rocks. You’re right. They are very fast! I’ve tried to photograph them many times. The only pics I’ve gotten are of the ones that have landed on the patio ceiling near the roof, or the ones that attach themselves to the wall of the entry of the house (right at Halloween) How appropriate, huh?

    I did see one out during the day once. But people say they are rabid if they come out during the day. I don’t know if all these bats normally carry rabies or not. They mostly eat insects.

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    • I don’t know if bats have a “right mind” – probably only bat minds. We don’t have many mosquitoes here and I imagine the bats are doing a good job eating them, so I’m happy to see them around. Bats can carry rabies but of all the things to worry about in life, I wouldn’t put that high on the list. I’m not trying to touch them anyway, just watch them.

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  2. How really cool you were able to capture them on film and still shots! They don’t stay long on the banana to get their bites 🙂

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  3. The warning is not so much for the rabies, but if they decide to make your home a “roost”, you will have one heck of a time getting rid of them, the guano can become smelly and breeds other things. Our friends Wayne and Christine spent over $1,000 getting rid of a colony of around thirty bats that was roosting at their home here in Pedasi. The fruit bats are cute, eat insects, navigate by sonar, not sight, but not so cute when a lot of them are sleeping during the day at your house.

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  4. I love bats, and especially people who protect them. The incidence of bats carrying rabies is much lower than other critters. Thanks for sharing the video. It is difficult to snap their pictures.

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    • Since rabies is transmitted through saliva, the vampire bats would be the only suspects for this and even then, it’s rare around here. I figure everything has its purpose in our ecosystem and I’m not going to bother anything unless I really have to.

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