Page:The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 3 (1899).djvu/75

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51
WHISKERED BAT IN CAPTIVITY.

it no inconvenience, for it used to sit, supported on feet and wrists, eating mealworms within a few inches of the flame, and never showed any desire to retire to dark or shaded places. Sometimes it would creep under my hand, or up my sleeve, but this, I think, was on account of the sensation of warmth it experienced in nestling against my skin.

The sense of sight seems to be but feeble in the Whiskered Bat. The example under notice could not see, or at all events recognize, a mealworm or wet paint-brush if more than an inch from its face. As this species is more diurnal than any other British Bat, and may frequently be seen abroad at midday in summer, the inability of my captive to see objects an inch away cannot be attributed to the dazzling effects of too strong a light, especially as this inability existed equally in the daytime and in the artificial light of a lamp. Its hearing also appeared to be dull, as it never showed by any movement of its head that it perceived a sudden noise, such as the snapping of my fingers, or the click of a watch-lid being closed. It sometimes slept prone upon the floor with wings folded and pressed closely to its sides, at other times suspended by its toes to the rim of a wooden box. During sleep, which was always profound, its temperature fell considerably, and it felt, as all Bats do in this state, extremely cold. It usually wakened in the evening, but exceptionally in the daytime without being roused; while, as a rule, it was necessary to warm it into activity by holding it for a minute or two in my hand if I wanted to feed it by daylight. It was constantly thirsty, and would readily lap milk or water even when not sufficiently roused from sleep to seize food. Its voice, often used, was a feeble squeak, less shrill than that of the Long-eared Bat. My captive used to tuck its head away under its body directly it had seized an insect, at the same time bringing its feet forward, so far indeed that it sometimes lost its balance and toppled over on its back. This habit, practised from the very first, was evidently one of old standing, and not a trick acquired in confinement. By feeding the Bat on a sheet of glass so that I could see it from beneath, or, better still, by giving it an insect as it hung suspended by its toes, the reason of its action was at once apparent. The tail being directed forward beneath the body, the interfemoral membrane formed a pouch into which the