Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Visiting Boris the Bat

bat Welcome ladies and gentlemen. My name is Boris and I want to welcome you to my humble abode, the Stumphouse Tunnel in South Carolina.

I have lived here for a few years with many of my family and friends. As you can see, it isn’t very fancy but we love it here. It stays a pretty constant temperature here and protects us during the winter. I’m so glad someone put up that gate even though you may find it frustrating. It was really upsetting to us when we kept having uninvited guests who just walked into our homes uninvited and thought we should stop our regular routine and entertain them! Now we usually go in and out the back door where people can’t disturb us.

I would like to share with you some information that is scaring me and the others who live here. Just like in your world, you worry about cancer and AIDS¸ we have something called White Nose Syndrome or WNS. My wife Natasha was diagnosed with it. First we saw white stuff on her nose, then ears and then wings. She started to drive us crazy because she wanted to fly outside in the daylight instead of sleeping with the rest of us. When she left, she would whoop and holler so the rest of us would wake up. I don’t know when she became such a party animal but it was sad. Instead of resting in the winter when we were supposed to hibernate, she wanted to go out and party. Those that do that rarely lived long. She lost more and more body fat until she couldn’t survive any longer and we lost her last year. We had hoped to have another child this year but then she became afflicted with this disease. My son and I miss her very much even though we had only been together for two years

We appreciate all the researchers trying to find out what is causing WNS and trying to help keep it from spreading. We hope that they don’t give up on us. They have come up with some ways to hopefully keep the disease from spreading. Since they aren’t exactly sure how it is spreading, they are asking anyone who visits a cave, not to bring anything in it that has been in another cave in the past five years. One lady today had paper booties on to cover her shoes (wasn’t she thoughtful!). All of the people had the flashlights in Ziploc bags so they could throw them away when they left. Their clothes could be washed and disinfected. According to some government paper, they found some chemical products that kill the spores such as:

“1. Lysol® IC Quaternary Disinfectant Cleaner (0.3% quaternary ammonium compound minimum) - 1 part concentrate to 128 parts water or 1 ounce of concentrate per gallon of water;

2. Lysol® All-purpose Professional Cleaner (0.3% quaternary ammonium compound minimum);

3. Formula 409® Antibacterial All-Purpose Cleaner (0.3% quaternary ammonium compound minimum);

4. A 10% solution of household bleach - 1 part bleach to 9 parts water (an estimate of 1:9 is insufficient);

5. Lysol® Disinfecting Wipes; or

6. Boil submersible gear in water for 15 minutes”

There is an organization that seems to be helping bats called Bat Conservation International that has some interesting information. You can also google “white nose syndrome” if you want to know more. Unfortunately we don’t have any computers here in the tunnel but we hear about these when there are educational groups brought into the tunnel. You see, my ears pick up on lots of neat stuff since we use echolocation to get around. So, if you have any secrets you don’t want bats to know, don’t say it anywhere near them. But at least we don’t go spreading any gossip!

I hope you enjoyed your visit to my home. Please spread the word to your friends about our cause. Explain to them that we love to have them visit and learn more about us but we would appreciate if they could take whatever precautions are necessary to ensure our survival. On this earth, we all have a specific purpose and we need each other. Thank you!

(If I did this lesson, I would have some kind of stuffed animal or prop that is a bat to talk to the class. Sometimes students are more motivated in hearing facts and information this way rather than just a dry lecture. I actually found a pattern to knit a bat for this kind of lesson: Boo the Bat and Flippy the Bat. It would be a great lesson to use in October.)

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: Little Brown Bat by Gare and Kitty

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