Batavia Elementary students go ‘batty’ for a wildlife lesson

You may think it’s batty, but she probably won’t mind.

Gina Patt, a volunteer with Second Chance Wildlife, introduced seven first grade classes at Batavia Elementary School to some little flying mammals that often receive more than their fair share of fear and superstition.

Bats, which tend to creep people out, are nothing to be afraid of, according to Patt. In fact, they’re really kind of cool, if you can get past the whole vampire thing.

“Vampire bats live in central and south America,” said Patt. “Have you ever heard of Dracula? He isn’t real, but they made a lot of money making those movies. You’d think they would share it with the bats, but they didn’t.”

While Patt explained that vampire bats do eat blood, she told the group of first graders that they don’t eat much, and that they get it from large animals such as livestock. Locally, the only bats you’ll find will be small and interested in only one thing – bugs.

“Do bats get in your hair?” asked Patt. “No, they don’t want in your hair. Why do they come close to you then? What bites you at night and makes you itch? Bats come close to us because they are hungry and they like the mosquitos.”

Patt discussed bats with the help of three of her little friends, brown bats that represent one of the 11 species of bats to live in Ohio. The three caged creatures wowed the students as they climbed about, hanging from the lids of their cages and flying from one end to the other.

Patt showed the students how bats use sound to locate objects through the use of a special device that picks up the high frequency sound a bat makes and creates an audible tone that people can hear.

She demonstrated the batty skill by dropping some fresh supper in for the bats – live worms.

“When it gets cold outside, they go to sleep, so I don’t have to put as much food in their cages,” said Patt. “When I put food in their cage, all I have to do is just drop food in. They will figure out where it is and come get it. They’ll go around and

clean the bottom of their cage. When they hibernate, the sleep, but will still wake up sometimes and want food and water.”

Patt told the students that each of the four bats she cares for eat about 25 worms a day, except for their hibernation time in the winter. Patt also discussed rabies and bats, telling the kids to avoid touching the creatures for safety, but adding that most bats don’t have rabies.

“Bats can see very well, but use echo location to help them see better,” said Patt.

“Do bats carry rabies? Do you guys have rabies? You’re mammals, why don’t you have rabies if bats do? If they have rabies, they are sick and dieing, which is not a good thing. I’ve had a rabies exposure shot, so I’m protected in case a bat does have rabies. But these live with me, so I know they don’t have rabies.”

Patt said that, as a rabies vaccinated volunteer, she is qualified to care for animals that are at a higher risk for rabies infections. She said that Second Chance Wildlife is actually composed of a number of volunteers who each specialize in taking care of a certain type of animal.

“If you find a hurt animal, you call the number and they will take a message,” said Patt. “They know who takes care of what kind of animals. I handle bats, so they would call me and I’d say yes or no, depending on how full my house is. We have people who take care of skunks, deer, bats, squirrels and others.”

With locations in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, Patt said that Second Chance Wildlife, headquartered in Fayetteville, does what it can to help hurt or abandoned wildlife and also educate people about the animals they care for.

For more information, or to contact Second Chance Wildlife concerning a hurt animal, call (513) 875-3433.