Life On and Around the Funny Farm
Image of bats

So, there we stood, both studying this little bat baby. He was tiny and had no fur. His skin was gray and wrinkly. His underbelly was a soft pink. His ears were oversized, giving him a Dumbo-like quality. His wings were tissue paper thin. His wide feet each had five stubby toes that gripped the cardboard tightly. He was helpless. What should we do with him?

Unsure, we rummaged around for a temporary home to put him in. As Charley punched air holes in the lid, I watched the little fellow flop around in the bottom. He seemed to be looking for something. Then I saw his mouth open and his tongue lick the sides and then bottom of the container. I was fascinated. Every once in a while, he would look up as if to say, "Hey, can't you see I'm thirsty?"

Taking the hint, I got some milk from the frig, warmed it in the microwave and gently placed a few drops on the bottom of the container, next to Elmer Thud's mouth. (It was Charley's idea to name him Elmer. I added the "Thud" to imitate the sound he must have made when he fell out of the ceiling.)

While I stayed downstairs monitoring Elmer, Charley went upstairs to check on his sibling. I continued to watch Elmer, talking to him, encouraging him to try some of the milk. It wasn't mom's milk, but hey, it was wet. He didn't seem interested, in fact, all of a sudden he lay motionless. I couldn't see him breathing...

"We've got to get him back to his mother, it's his only chance," Charley said.

"I don't know if he's gonna make it," I said. "He seems pretty weak and he hasn't tried any of the milk." He must have heard us talking. To prove me wrong, he awoke from his stupor and began licking the milk.

He polished off the original supply and began searching the bottom for more. So, I placed a few more drops in front of his face and he lapped them up. At one point, he held his head up, exposing a milk mustache and beard around his miniature mouth. He was actually kind of cute.

Just as I was starting to get attached to him, Charley said it was time to help Elmer rejoin his family. So, we took Elmer upstairs, laid him on a flat piece of cardboard and Charley moved him close to the opening where his sibling had just been. Without any more help than that, Elmer scurried into the opening and out of sight.

Charley took a piece of wood, covered the opening and secured it with wood screws (using his cordless electric drill, of course). "There, that should take care of that," Charley said. "Bye Elmer," I said. "Maybe we'll see you when you're old enough to fly."

(excerpted from "Bats in the belfry?")

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