Bats as Introverts?

Bats introvert 1Why should any of us pick a particular part of nature to connect to? We all tend to do this in one way or another. A good friend of mine, for example, loves birds. He spends a lot of time every week photographing them, trying to capture as many different birds and behaviors as he can.

I find bats fascinating in so many ways, but I don’t remember anything about them from when I was a kid. Given the tendency for our culture to find them scary and unwanted, I wonder why. Yes, they are a hugely important part of nature. Yes, they represent a significant time of nature, night, that we often miss as day creatures. Yes, they represent about 1/4 of all mammals and are highly important to many ecosystems.

But why should I want to spend so much time learning about them, and even more, trying to photograph them? They are a difficult part of nature to photograph because they come out at night and have such high mobility as fliers.

I think that one reason might be because they are underdogs. When we learn about underdogs, we often want to support them. That’s true for me, and there is more.

Once you get to know bats, you find that they are gentle, beautiful creatures highly adapted to their life of night predators (and night flower feeders in some areas of the U.S.). They are not showy or dramatic, they don’t call attention to themselves, they don’t have impressive calls or theatrical mating displays, and they are perfectly happy living quietly in the night when most mammals, birds and other wildlife are asleep.

In that sense, they are introverts of wildlife, and I can relate to that. I am an introvert and say that with confidence and pride. Introverts are not “shy” or less valuable to our world than extroverts, even though our society often judges us as such. Introverts simply deal with the world differently than extroverts. We need time away from the others, we get tired from too much noise and activity, and we enjoy a life separate from a social, on-the-go experience.

I know that bats have a variety of personalities like any other animal, but in some ways, bats can be seen as similar to an introvert. Night is quieter, more peaceful usually, with a lot less going on, all something any introvert can relate to. Introverts can focus deeply on things away from others, and night is certainly a time that bats can focus on their “work” catching bugs and not have to worry about competition from other wildlife or predators after them as they fly. It makes an interesting comparison, anyway.