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The Word on the Week

Bats and Boxes

Bats and Boxes Word on the Week 18th February 2017.
In a week when the newspapers were going batty over who said ‘what’ and ‘when’ we were finding out how to help conserve the real bats. These little creatures do not cause any harm and do a power of good in eating their own weight in insects daily. At present they are hibernating so now is the time to make the boxes which will (hopefully) house them through the summer months.
Bats are the only truly flying mammals. They suckle their young and can delay birth until the most opportune time. There are around 1,240 species globally of which we have 10 resident in Ireland.
The old UK name of Flittermouse recognises the mouse looking nature of bats. The Dutch word Vieermuis or the German word Fledermaus translate as winged mouse which is a better description.

It is inaccurate to call someone “as blind as a bat” as bats can see! Their sight is best in dim lighting so the modern practice of floodlighting buildings, either for security or to bring out their beauty, tends to drive the bats from their old roosts. Likewise the bat box should be located away from the bright lights but on the warm south side of the building or tree as they like to be in a warm draft-proof place.
Bat boxes differ from bird boxes which are now being fixed in appropriate locations. Instead of a hole on the front of the box the bats enter via a slot across the bottom. They require to be located at least twice as high as the typical bird box which is around 3 metres. It is important that they are made of untreated wood i.e. no chemicals or toxic paint as these poison the bats.

But it is the bats radar that most people find fascinating. Bats echo-location emits ultrasonic sounds to produce echoes. These returning sounds produce detailed images of the bats surroundings and allow it to identify its prey. At 130 decibels it is a powerful sound which would deafen the bat if it were not for a muscle which contracts and closes the middle ear as the sound goes out relaxing to hear the returning echo. It is not only humans that are wonderfully made!
The Bible mentions bats among the birds which are not to be eaten Leviticus (Chapter 11 verse 19).
God’s care for creation is only exceeded in his marvellous provision for our redemption. To think that God has provided a way for humans to find their way to him (without echo-location) but through prayer and the influence of the Holy Spirit is truly amazing. Jeremiah Chapter 33 verse 3 says “Call to me and I will answer you”. That answer will be faster that a bats returning echo!