If four bat skeletons, three stuffed animals, two coloring pages, and one aggressively friendly smile can’t convince visitors to talk to you about bats, nothing can.
I stock my Bat Chat table with all these props and more, hoping to lure people over from the Visitor Center. The steady stream of people renting flashlights and buying souvenirs keeps me stocked with budding bat-enthusiasts and their questions test the knowledge that I’ve spent the last few weeks honing. Everyone wants to hold the preserved bat and ask questions like…
What kinds of bats do you have here?
Fifteen different species! But my favorite is the Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat.
What do bats eat?
Lots of different things including fruit, pollen, and even scorpions, but all of the bats in Lava Beds are insectivores.
What’s that weird metal treadmill behind you?
It’s a shoe-washing station that contains 3% hydrogen peroxide, which destroys the spores of the fungus that causes White Nose Syndrome in bats. If you’ve been in other caves, you might have the spores on your shoes, so we want you to wash them to protect the bats.
I love talking with the visitors about what caves they plan on visiting and what experiences they’ve had with bats. Although some people tell me that they think bats are frightening and are afraid of seeing some in our caves, most people say they loves bats and look forward to spotting them! This is exactly the attitude that I want to encourage with the Bat Chat table because bats are actually extremely beneficial to humans. They eat insects that would otherwise ravage our crops, they pollinate flowers, and they even help reforest areas that we’ve logged. I hope that everyone who walks away from my Bat Chat does so with a newfound appreciation for bats and everything that they do for us.