Edwina the Little Brown Bat

Edwina sleeping

Listen to the voice of nature, for it holds treasures for you.Huron-Wendat Proverb

Little Brown Bat

Latin name:  Myotis lucifugus

Description:  Body 2.4 to 4 inches long with short tan to dark brown hair, and black ears.  The wingspan is 9 to 11 inches.   

Habitat:  Near water, from forests to urban areas roosting among trees (especially dying trees, and snags) caves, mine shafts, barns, buildings, carports, and bat houses.  Females often return to the same roost each year.  

Diet:  Insects. 

Life Span:  The age of the little brown bat varies greatly and is typically 4 to 7 years although some can live as long as 34 years with males living longer than females.

There hasn’t been much bat activity this year like other years.  From spring, and for much of the summer, I watched the night by the pale glow of the porch light, but saw not a single bat; not even the little brown bat formerly named Eddie that who we renamed Edwina.  I was worried sick!  Worried that Edwina, and the other little brown bats might have been stricken with the dreadful, and highly fatal disease white-nose syndrome; a fungus that has killed millions of bats. 

Edwina has been with us since 2015.  We first called her Eddie, but if it is the same bat returning (and I believe it is) then Eddie is an Edwina as females often return to the same roost each year.  Edwina doesn’t use the bat house, but prefers to roost, and sleep in the rafter; her favorite is the main rafter of our carport, directly above the outside entrance of our laundry room.  Edwina doesn’t mind our comings and goings, and we are always mindful not to disturb her.  We’ve even gotten in the habit when opening the door, to look up to see whether she is there, and not to let the door slam.

So it was, on a stifling night in late July that a little brown bat flew back and forth past the back door hunting scores of insects.  I can’t imagine these woods without them.  So beneficial, a single bat will eat up to, and sometimes exceed, its bodyweight in insects per night.  The sight of the bat thrilled me.  I wanted so badly for it to be Edwina.  I could hardly wait ’till morning.  When morning finally came, I looked for Edwina, but the rafter was vacant.  It didn’t mean she wasn’t there as she often roosts between the rafter and the roof through an opening slightly thicker than a credit card. 

Edwina yawning

I looked for Edwina again in the afternoon, and low and behold, there she was nestled in the corner of her favorite rafter.  I wanted so badly to shout, Welcome Back! Instead, I sat down a few feet away, and quietly read Winter Morning Walks by Ted Kooser.  Edwina shifted her body, and then outstretched her left-wing slightly forward, resting her head on her wrist that looked very human like. She then started to yawn, so I reached for my camera getting in a few shots before she fell asleep.  It wasn’t until that evening that I looked over the photos and found one rare capture of Edwina yawning, revealing tiny white fangs.  I will always cherish this photo, and the marvelous work she does balancing the ecosystem, keeping the insects in-check.  I can now rest a little easier, Edwina’s come home.

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