A Batty Adventure
On the 4th of July, we went over to our neighbor’s house for the traditional bar-b-que and potato salad. They then suggested we go over to Bull Shoals Dam in their boat and watch the fireworks display over the water.
I know, fireworks aren’t environmentally friendly, but seeing them over the water was something we had never experienced. Part of the whole experience of moving to Our Little House in a new area is to experience new adventures. Lack of jobs and money have prevented us from doing things for a few months and now we’re working so hard, time is an issue.
The boat ride was pretty rough, bass boats don’t do well traveling at fast speeds on waterways with a lot of traffic and once we reached the dam area, it looked like a floating city.
The fireworks, however, were spectacular. Seeing them over the water really was an experience.
We made our way through the crowded rough waters back to our sparsely populated side of the lake. The night was pitch black and Fred was still cruising at a pretty good speed when I saw a shadow fly across the deck and hit my life jacket and land in my lap.
My first thought was of the “flying” Asian carp that have invaded waters in the U.S. I didn’t think they had invaded Bull Shoals Lake, I’ve written a couple of environmental pieces on them. However, I knew it wasn’t wet when I brushed it off and it landed on Dale. It felt fuzzy, somewhat like a huge moth (and we have moths here the size of birds). I yelled that something had hit me, but Fred, our driver didn’t slow.
A few minutes later, Dale said he saw something moving on the floor and he out pulled his flashlight . At first I thought it to be a small brown toad as it was kind of hopping around, but then it expanded it’s wings. A bat.
Fred asked if he should stop?
I don’t freak out easily – I usually tease our friends and family who visit that they need to toughen up when they’re here – I shrug at spiders, make a wide path around snakes and hardly flinch at ticks.
But there’s something about a bat that is just, well, creepy.
I jumped and pulled my legs up. Maybe it was all of those stories of vampires I’ve read all of my life, but more than likely, it was the rumors I’ve heard of bats carrying deadly diseases such as rabies.
Rae asked if it had bitten either of us or scratched us – it really didn’t have a chance – it had hit my lifejacket and I had sleeves on. When I flicked it, I didn’t feel anything but it’s furry wing. When it landed on Dale, he simply moved his leg and it fell to the floor.
We were all just sitting there staring at it, trying to figure out how to get it out of the boat. While it looked stunned, it didn’t appear to be sick. When Dale pointed the light away, it suddenly it spread it’s wings and took flight and was gone.
Still a little nervous about our encounter, I began researching bats the next day.
Some advice on the Internet seemed to come from the hysterical end of the spectrum, practically advising anyone who has been in close quarters with a bat to begin rabies shots, no matter if they felt a bite or not.
However, I’m a journalist and look for the facts, which suggest that less than one half of 1 percent of all bats in the U.S. carry rabies. The risk that either one of us sustained a bite while awake and not know it is probably less than zero. The risk of us being scratched and not know it a little higher, but neither of us had marks on our hands or the exposed part of my ankles. Even if we had been scratched, the chance of contracting anything is again almost nill.
At least the experience taught me something about more of the wildlife around Our Little House.