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October 1932Volume 7, Number 7


By Park Naturalist Edwin D. McKee

THERE WAS a pronounced sound of fluttering nearby. Low over the water of the mud tank where I stood fishing flew a large bat with long slender wings. Its size and proportions were such that they immediately commanded my attention. They formed a marked contrast with those of the two best known bats of the region the Little Pallid Bat, Myotis, and the Canyon Bat, Pipistrellus.

Even while I watched this winged mammal and wondered concerning its identity, a strange thing occurred. Coming from the opposite end of the tank another and similar bat approached. With rapid stroke of wings the two flew straight toward each other and for no apparent reason crashed, in mid air. For a brief moment they whirled about, flapped their wings furiously, uttered strange squeaking sounds, and then dropped like two bolts.

In the dim twilight one of the bats disappeared from sight but the other was plainly visible as it slowly swam toward shore, using both wings in a type of breast stroke. By running along the water's edge, I was able to reach and easily catch this one before it crawled up on the land. Also, to my great surprise, I found the other bat lying nearby on a flat rock - apparently stunned. Thus a double capture was accomplished.

After only a brief moment both bats seemed to revive and both regained their fighting spirits simultaneously. The one which had just previously been swimming grabbed the other by the wing with a "bull dog" grip. The other uttered weird noises and vainly attempted to retaliate. Indeed, considerable force was necessary to separate the animals, and individual containers were required for peace.

It was interesting to note that on one of the bats were three large reddish bedbugs, Cimex pilosellus. These insects are not uncommon on all species of bats, though they differ from the bedbugs which sometimes become intimate acquaintances of man.

Upon examination the bats proved to be of a variety known as the Pallid Brown Bat, Eptesicus fuscus pallidus.* This species is considered to be the commonest of the larger bats ranging over the southwest. It has previously been recorded from the South Rim of Grand Canyon **, but there are few actual records of its occurrence there. Its flight is conspicuous for its steadiness, although the bat may make abrupt changes in direction. This type of flight, together with the large size of the animal, help to distinguish it from a distance.

*Identification by Mr. Vernon Bailey, U. S. Biological Survey.

** Preliminary Check-list of Mammals, Grand Canyon, by Edwin D. McKee, Technical Bulletin No. 2, 1929.

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