Sssssshhhhhhh....talk quietly, the babies are being born. Each mom-to-be will give birth to a single, tiny bat. It will be pink, hairless, and a quarter of its mother’s weight at the time of its birth. If you have been to The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve then you know from my nightly (Thurs.-Sunday) educational presentation, that the moms weigh about what two nickels weigh. The pups (or baby bats) are born alive, are nursed (like a cat nurses a kitten), and grow extremely fast in the four weeks before their first flight out of the cave.
The atmosphere at The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve almost explodes in anticipation of the millions of babies that will fill the ceiling of the cave. Not only do human viewers come to witness the nightly emergence of all of the momma bats, but predators including snakes, raccoons, skunk, fox, and even very up-close encounters with great-horned owls are happenings that no one would want to miss! Even though the emergence is still close to nine o’clock, we have had crowds nearly every night since we opened. Some give up and leave before the show begins because darkness falls hard in the bowl-like area where we sit to view the exiting bats. I don’t think that so many would leave before the show begins if they had not forgotten their flashlights. I do have a few spare ones that I loan out, but there have been many instead of few who come to the viewing area and leave their flashlights in the car, motel, or just don’t bring one at all. For any of you who will be visiting in the future...it is a good idea to have at least one flashlight per family since we will be returning to the parking area after dark. I won’t go into detail in this column why this might be important, but remember, itsssssssssss a suggestion that you may thank me for at some point in your life.
To emphasize the key things to remember on your trip to The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve: (1) flashlights, (2) sturdy walking shoes, (3) a soft voice, (4) enough hard drive in your brain to record for later memory all of the sights, sounds, and smells from this great little eight acres, and of course number (5) a smile two feet wide (which will span to about six feet before you leave this wonderland of dreams)...
I do give an educational presentation at about 7:30 p.m. each Thursday through Sunday evening. If you don’t want me to entertain you, we still ask that you please try to arrive at the preserve no later than 8:00 p.m. It will take a few minutes to hike the trail and get settled in for the greatest show on this planet! We don’t want to disrupt the bats during this time of the season any more than we possibly have to. You know how emotional new moms are. Emergence times can vary up to an hour from night to night. For more information, please call the bat hotline at: 325-347-5970. See ya at the cave!!