Mason County News
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Bats, Rats, & Cats
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 • Posted October 15, 2008

If you, like many Americans, wear clothes, then you might want to discreetly check and see if there are any small mammals in the ones you’re wearing now. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

The reason I mention this is that lately there seems to be a spate of incidences where people are going along, minding their own business, thinking they are alone in their garments, suddenly discovering they are not. This can be alarming, especially if you happen to be, say, flying a plane at the time, or maybe performing a delicate and somewhat important brain operation.

The first such occurrence occurred in Norwich, England. Abbie Hawkins, a 19-year-old hotel receptionist, recently noticed, while at work, that there was a baby bat in her brassiere. She had been previously unaware of the bat, even though she had been wearing the bra for several hours. I had always assumed those things were uncomfortable, but I had no idea they were so painful that small nocturnal animals would go unnoticed for that long. An hour or two, sure, but six hours?

Abbie had grabbed the garment from her clothesline that morning. The bat had evidently gotten in there during the night or early morning, and Abbie had not noticed, when she got dressed, that some of her clothes were already occupied. Her reaction, when she found the bat, was “how mean I was for disturbing it.” I did not make that reaction up.

The article in the London Daily Telegraph did not say what kind of bat it was, but we can assume it was not an endangered type, or else the nature weenies would have been all over Abbie like a boa constrictor in a parka. But if this happens to you here in Texas, you might want to keep quiet about it until you make sure it isn’t one of the three kinds of protected bats we have here. They are: the Myotis Sodalis (endangered), the Mexican Long-Nosed Bat (endangered), and the Mexican Long-Tongued Bat (near threatened) (as opposed to far threatened, I guess).

The reason I know this is because I recently received a ‘Media Advisory’ from one Steve Byrns, who is evidently associated somehow with the Global Mammal Assessment Project. I did not make this project up. Its results were announced last week at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Seven Texas mammals were listed in these results as threatened. This is probably bad news.

Besides the bats, our threatened species include: the Robust Cottontail, the Texas Kangaroo Rat, the Banner-Tailed Kangaroo Rat, and the Desert Pocket Gopher (as in ‘seven gopher in the desert pocket’).

Now, you’re probably wondering why a cottontail rabbit described as, even named, ‘robust’ would be listed as endangered, unless it is not actually as robust as claimed. I’m wondering that, too, but I don’t have an answer for you. What I do know is that a friend of mine recently found a Texas Kangaroo Rat in his pants. (I say ‘pants’ because my kids make fun of me when I say ‘britches’)

One night last week, a fellow riding along on a donorcycle near Mason hit a deer. It was a terrible wreck, and our fire dept. and EMS were dispatched to the scene. Two helicopters were called, and I ended up standing in the highway blocking traffic for a while, along with Josh Bradley, and Tanner and Kelby Brown.

While we were standing there talking, Kelby declared that he thought there was something in his bunker pants, which are worn over your regular britches. He started shucking boots and pulling his bunker gear off, and the rest of us helpfully made jokes for Kelby’s benefit.

Before long a small, gray fuzz ball came rolling out of one of Kelby’s britches legs. On closer examination we discovered it was a Texas Kangaroo Rat. Now, a Texas Kangaroo Rat is indistinguishable from a common field mouse, especially at night in the middle of a highway by flashlight. So it could have been a regular mouse, but even if it was a regular mouse it was definitely threatened. Kelby threatened to do terrible things to it. He threatened to do even worse things to whoever had put it in his pants. We finally convinced him that it had probably gotten there on its own. At least I think we did.

I think it’s interesting that these two people (Abbie and Kelby) each found a small, uninvited guest in their clothes, and they reacted very differently. Abbie was sorry to have disturbed her bat, and Kelby wanted to disturb his mouse until there was nothing left of it.

There is a simple explanation for the disparity in these two views – Abbie is an idiot. There is also a moral to this story: If you are a small, hairy rodent-type creature with a tendency to carry disgusting diseases, and you are not endangered, stay out of my britches, or you will be . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who forgot to include any cats. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or jeep@verizon.net

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