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Desert Diary


Claustrophobic? You have lots of company. Loads of people don't like constricted places, perhaps reacting to a primitive fear from our distant past of being trapped, of avenues of escape cut off. Not all animals share this distaste for confined quarters—indeed, some seek them out.

Many kinds of bats, like reluctant celebrities, retreat from public view when their duties are done. No, not hanging out for all to see in a spacious cave, but deep in a crevice. Cracks in rocks, especially those unreachable by unflighted creatures, are preferred by most. Others, though, like the feel of wood, and adore trees where the bark has pulled slightly away from the trunk. Some crevice roosters, such as our desert Pallid Bat, are even adventuresome enough to happily occupy spaces behind loose shutters and siding on our buildings.

Bats are built for this kind of refuge, with flattened bodies and backwards-pointing feet allowing them to scramble hind-end first into vertical crevices, ready to face invaders with bared teeth and able to reach flying speed by merely letting go.
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Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.