That little black smudge? It's alive. (Bigger picture after the jump.)
There is something exciting about spotting a wild critter in the city. Since moving to Washington four years ago, I've walked past raccoons and biked past more than a dozen deer in Rock Creek Park.
So I was just beaming last month, when I saw my new favorite urban animal: a furry little bat who lives downtown between Congress and the White House.
When I first saw him, he looked like the waste bolus an owl might cough up after digesting a rat: a little cylinder of fur, with random signs of bones and feet. The whole thing was nestled in a building's crevice, about three feet off the ground.
Then I saw the silk of a wing, and the pointy little ears, and realized I was looking at a bat that could probably hide in my hand. (Click for larger pic UPDATE: Tennessee scientist ID's bat/ Video of the bat/ Name NPR's pet bat)
I could barely process what I was seeing. Don't bats hang out in huge groups? If you were a small bat like this, wouldn't you do two things: 1) find some friends; 2) roost a little higher off the ground, so cockamamie people can't just kill you on a whim while you sleep all day?
Day after day, I see him in the same spot, happy that he's safe and sleeping. He's not dead; I poked him once and he kind of looked up, like, "Not now, man." You could almost hear him groaning. (Later, somebody told me, "You're not supposed to do that.")
I wonder if his family will take him back — and if maybe he doesn't want to go back, darn it. He may just be an independent-minded bat. As you can see, I'm into back-stories.
Someone told me a group of bats is called a "cloud," like a parliament of owls, a float of crocodiles, etc. So does that make this guy a droplet?