TRENT'S WALK IN THE BELIZEAN JUNGLE (Part Five)
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Have you ever found yourself sitting outside right about sunset? Well I did just that, the other night and all these bats came out.
This entire country is made up of underground limestone caves, and in each cave are thousands, if not millions of bats. So really, you could call Belize, a country full of bats. Not all bats "suck blood" as we have been lead to believe. Some (most) bats, eat bugs, fruit, and some even eat fish.
In Belize, the order for bats is Chiroptera, meaning hand-wing, and these are the only flying mammals in the skies. They are very intelligent creatures, gentle and shy. Their acrobatic ability is made possible by a sophisticated sonar system which allows them to do high speed loop-to-loops, within inch of your head. A freaky as it feels, they are mysterious creatures, and with the word mysterious, comes the word curious. These are very inquisitive animals.
In fact, some of the larger fruit bats, such as the "flying fox", do not have sonar - nor the large ears or enlarged gorilla nostrils (as I call them) which are standard equipment for these little echo-sonar creatures.
Bats vary in size from having a 6' wingspan, down to as small as my thumb. They are generally gregarious, meaning very sociable, this is why they like to fly around your head. They often fly wing-tip to wing-tip in fanciful formation, and their social lives are full of ritual which may include very elaborate courtships. Normally only one baby bat is born at a time, and only once a year. Many bats migrate, and some even hibernate.
Fruit bats, are major seed-dispensers, passing on the good news of avocado, guava, mango, breadfruit, plantain, cashew and the like - as they eat. Their guano (aka - poop) acts as a quality fertilizer. Not to mention that one bats can eat over 3,000 bugs (or mosquitoes) in one single night! So you want to keep these babies around!
Our family has a very funny story, that I cannot resist telling here, all centered around bats. The story goes something like this..........
Several years back, when I was a baby (about 2 years old), mom and dad lived in grandpa Smith's cabin in the Colorado mountains, along the Santa de Cristo mountain range. This mountain range, has alot of 14,000 foot mountains. We lived in a cabin at the base of one of these mountains, about 9-10,000 feet high in elevation. My dad owned a large graphics business and would sometimes get called away to do a big job . One year his company was selected to do all the graphics for the Boston Red Sox's Game in their Boston Stadium. Mom would often stay home to watch over things, along with me & our German Shepherd, named "Matty."
One day while dad was away, mom decided to do a little cleaning outside and heard a squeezing noise as she walked by. Thinking to herself, "Oh, no Birds!" Up inside the siding of grandpa''s cabin. She didn't want bird roosting in there, because of the mess they make. So she went down to the local hardware store, explained the problem to the clerk and asked for his suggestion on what to do. He told her to go back home, use a stick, and try and get the birds (up in there), to fly away. Try and locate the nest (if any) and relocate it. Then take a can of this spray foam and fill the cracks, so the birds can't come back . So mom bought 2-3 cans, and back to the cabin she went.
Next day mom started her project. She poked around trying to get any birds to fly out, nothing! She then banged on the siding to make some noise, hoping to scare them and get them to leave. Thinking that she had accomplished the task, she tried to peek up though the cracks in the siding (though dark in there) to see if she could see a nest, but nothing. She then went and got her ladder, her can of spray foam and decided to commence the task of sealing up grandpa's house. She positioned the ladder just right and proceeded to climb up 4-5 steps. She pulled the plug on the can and the foam started pouring out. She quickly scrambled to get the foam into the cracks - but low and behold, all of a sudden, something whist by her head, startling her so bad, she back stepped and fell off the ladder. In hitting the ground, the nozzle on the can broke, and the contents of the can exploded into her hands.
Recovering from a soar elbow and foam now all in her hands, she looks up, only to see bats flying in the air above her head. There must have been 20-30 bats, she said. Then all of a sudden, they started dropping to the ground like bat bombs all around her. Each one flapping his wings frantically and making this awful sound. She quickly ran to get me, and scooped me up into her arms with her elbows, only to realize (by the smell), that I had messed my pants. She quickly grabs the dogs collar and leads us both into the garage for safety.
Once in the garage, she tried everything to get the foam off her hands (soap, water, keroseen, paint thinner, nail polish remover), nothing worked. So she puts on a pair of yellow kitchen rubber gloves and changed my diaper. Now the rubber gloves won't come off, stuck to her hands from the sticky foam. Long story short, mom cuts the rubber gloves off with scissors, while she is frantically screaming for the neighbor to come help her.
The neighbor comes running with a shovel in hand. Ready to bang someone or something over the head for upsetting mom. Upon investigation, the neighbor realizes that the bats have the sticky foam on their wings and this is why they flew up into the air and then started dropping like bat bombs to the ground. Mom began to cry, feeling somehow responsible for the entire event.
Determined that this was not going to happen again, mom and the neighbor begin investigating grandpa's cabin. Only to realize that the entire cabin, was nothing more than a very large bat house with hundreds, maybe even thousands of bats living within the rafters outside. "I am not living with bats, exclaimed Mom!" So she gets on the internet and starts reading about how to get rid of bats. Finding some article that said............bats hate snakes.
Mom throws me into the car and off we go, headed for the nearest Walmart. She walks into the store - straight for the toy section. Of course you can imagine what I was thinking. The clerk asks, 'Can I help you?" Mom informs the clerk, that she is on a quest to buy every rubber (4 foot) snake they have in stock. I think we ended up buying 15-20 of these snakes that day.
We get back home and mom nails these snakes all over the outside of the cabin. Thinking to herself, this way....when the bats fly back at dawn, they will then see the snakes and decided to rest or make their home somewhere else.
Several days later, my dad comes home from his business trip and as he's pulling up into the driveway, he sees our house (the house that he lives in), covered in snakes. Of course not realizing that they are all rubber snakes, you can just imagine what happened next.
Several years back, mom tried to give away the rubber snakes, but my older sister stopped her. "Mom, we have to keep these rubber snakes in the family." The story is too funny.
Hope you enjoyed the story as much as I do. We laugh about this story to this day, and I love hearing my mom tell the story over and over. If you've spend any time at all with our family (round a campfire or long road trip) you've heard this story several times.
Hi, my name is Trenton S. Turley. I've been living in Belize now for 11 years. Hope you enjoy reading my many blog posts. I write about things, that are passionate to me.
SNAKES OF BELIZE!
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