City Living

Friendly Scientist Identifies NPR's Pet Bat


Enjoying life downtown. Andrew Prince/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Andrew Prince/NPR

Turns out I've found no ordinary brick bat.

My colleagues Vikki Valentine and Jessica Goldstein at the NPR Science Desk passed along photos of the bat nestled in a crevice here in Washington, D.C., to bat expert Hill Henry (not a typo, I swear). Hill, a biologist with the Tennessee Valley Authority, writes:

"Not a big brown, I'll go with one of my favorites, the silver-haired bat. The light colored (pink) patch of skin on an otherwise black ear is diagnostic, in addition to silver hair on the back and hair-covered patagium."

(That's the double-sided skin that makes up bats' wings)


Looking a little more silver here. Bill Chappell/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Bill Chappell/NPR

We've got an audio interview with Hill on our showpage, plus more of his e-mail and another photo from Andrew Prince after the jump.

Hill continues, "It's hard to see much of the silver hair in the photos, but there are some."

He says we found "a GREAT bat, few folks outside of the bat biologist arena see these guys. I have only captured my specimens in the Cherokee National Forest, in the Hiwassee Watershed."


Anyone think its face looks like a cat? Andrew Prince/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Andrew Prince/NPR

I admit, I had no idea people were so passionate about bats — especially in a positive sense! I ran into some folks on the sidewalk who like the bat a lot. But then I noticed they had on uniforms from Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, and realized maybe you can't take them as a standard sample of the populace.

Still, it's funny that he/she's getting so many fans by basically sleeping in public.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Mr. Chappell, you should talk bats here in Austin. People are very passionate here about them. We have one of the largest urban populations living under a bridge downtown. We line up at dusk to watch them exit for the evening. Maybe Mr. Fuzz there would like to visit a big group of cousins? Our bats are Mexican Freetails and they go to Mexico in the winter.
For more info (and accurate - as opposed to mine)

Take care,

Sent by Melody Lambert | 3:51 PM | 12-12-2007

A very lovely (and necessary) creature to be sure; thank goodness she (i think i heard that right?) is being cared for in a better place by a good person with meal worms galore. It only takes a minute to be kind to another, even if they don't look or think like us!

Sent by elise harrison-smith | 6:09 PM | 12-22-2007

What to name a bat? Ariel of course!

Sent by J. Livengood | 6:14 PM | 12-22-2007

The ONLY name possible is Stellaluna, after the beloved children's book about a baby bat who loses her mother. The author is Janell Cannon.

Sent by Jodi Pendry Good | 8:09 PM | 12-22-2007

Oh my goodness, this looks just like the bat who was hibernating on the building in downtown Seattle where I worked, right outside my office window. The tiny creature arrived right on cue--the Fri. before Halloween--and immediately became the star of our office. I felt so chosen and protective, that he found his resting spot outside MY window! I know it sounds silly. We had a warm spell a few weeks later, and he disappeared. I never found out what kind he was, but he looked like this one and had the silver hair on his back. I'm so glad you did this story, thank you!

Sent by Jill | 9:12 PM | 12-22-2007

I'd name the bat: Casey. And, of course, his email address should be

Sent by David Marcu | 2:14 PM | 12-23-2007

For this bat, I like the name Sheila.

Sent by Jennifer Johnson | 10:00 PM | 12-23-2007

No, no, no. I think the name Jennifer is better!

Sent by Sheila | 9:42 PM | 12-25-2007

I suggest that the bat's name should be Shade from the book "Silverwing."

Sent by Seonghoon Kim | 10:47 PM | 1-2-2008

heh a silver hair...yer lucky, they are one of the several species i would like to hold,
i hope he grows up healthy, cuz bats with that particular fur color are not as common as one would think^_^

Sent by Shade Hitomi | 10:48 PM | 7-10-2008

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