Hi, I am Ms. Batty and I come to The Eckert James River Bat Cave from Mexico each summer to give birth to a pup or baby bat. In last week’s column I explained how the pup was born. This week I would like to tell you how fast my baby grows and why.
When my pup is born, he/she will weigh about one quarter of my weight. I weigh almost what two nickels weigh so you can see this will be one tiny tot. He/she will be about half of my length and will be pink and hairless. For a human to give birth with the same ratio, a 120lb woman would have to give birth to a 30lb baby. If the same woman is 5’6'’ tall, the baby would have to be over two and one half feet long at birth!! In just four weeks my pup will be almost my length, almost my weight, have a black coat and be ready to take to the sky in search of his/her own food. A human takes eighteen years to do the same task with their baby. In some cases, young humans NEVER take off to make their own way...but that is just another story entirely!!
After my pup is born I go out and search for yummy food that will help him/her develop quickly. I know that the hundreds of tiny bugs that I eat every night before I come to Texas is just not enough to keep up my metabolism and also develop the tiny baby growing inside of me. My diet will now consist of moths that are more than abundant over the Texas sky. This pest, the corn ear worm moth, heads north from the Rio Grande Valley just a short time before I begin my trek to Texas to give birth to my pup. The moths come to Texas to lay their eggs on many different crops. Each moth will have about 600 eggs that she will lay on 600 different pieces of fruit and vegetables. I will go out each night and eat about 40 of these moths and change them into milk for my baby. Remember, we are mammals and we do nurse our little ones like a dog would nurse her pup. If you do the math, you will find that in one night I have the potential of keeping 24,000 pieces of fruit and vegetables from being ruined by the moths’ babies which hatch out of the eggs that she lays. Multiply that number by the millions of bats in the cave and you will quickly see why we are so important to you humans. But, don’t forget to DOUBLE that number when the pups begin to fly since they too will feed on these moths. Now, if you haven’t figured it out on your own, the eggs in the moths are almost pure fat and protein. This fat and protein source is what gives our babies such a boost in growing so fast in just four weeks.
Next week I will tell you more about where we go to find all of these moths and why these moths can be deadly to our babies.
Vicki, the bat cave steward, asked me to remind you that the bats are still coming out after 8:30P.M. but that time can change up to one hour, so be sure to call the bat hotline at 325-347-5970 for the current emergence time. She also told me to tell you that she would, “See ya at the cave!””