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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Big blonds at the night roost

A big blond makes her entrance.

You want bats?

You get bats!

We are back at the sandstone cave looking at pallid bats (Antrozous pallidus).

They are distinctive big blond bats with relatively big eyes, and they are most abundant in the drier parts of the western and southwestern US.

The pallid bat stands apart from its relatives in the family Vespertilionidae.

For one thing, it forages on the ground.  

That's right: they land in open areas and dance about on their wrists and hind feet to catch large arthropods. 

And yes, some mammalogists have caught them in snap traps, though not intentionally.

How does that happen? 

The bats probably pounced on an arthropod perched on the trap's baited treadle. 

Potato bugs or Jerusalem crickets (Stenopelmatus spp.) are common prey.

As an aside, I might add that Jerusalem crickets are fond of oatmeal and big enough to trigger a mousetrap baited with it. 

They don't require the assistance of a pallid bat to get whacked. 

But back to big blonds.

The little stuff they eat on the wing -- that's their fast food.

With meaty stuff like Jerusalem crickets, katydids and scorpions they fly off  to a night roost in an outbuilding , rock recess, or cave and there they dine at leisure. 

Only a couple of pallid bats showed up, and only on two nights. 

Unwanted legs, wings, and head capsules they discard with the abandon of Falstaff, and the discovery of these little piles of carnage has been known to send bat aficionados into gleeful rapture. 

By the way, the camera trap also photographed a scorpion in the sandstone cave, but the big blonds weren't present.     


1 comment:

Jace Stansbury said...

Your camera sets never seize to amaze me. Bears, cougars, bobcats, skunks, squirrels, foxes, coyotes, pocket mice, rabbits, birds and now bats and scorpions.....jeez Codger you are the man....