The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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BATS AND VAMPIRES                   199
bites a tiny little hole in your toe, not bigger than a pin's head, and from this he sucks till he can suck no more, sometimes after his meal he finds himself too heavy to fly; and sometimes when the morning dawns the sleeping victim is found to be dead.
Cattle, says Captain Stedman, these blood-suckers prefer to attack in the ear, and the best remedy for the wounds is to plaster on the ashes of tobacco.
The common bat which we see darting about in summer evenings, so rapidly that it is difficult to be sure anything has passed at all, goes to sleep all through the winter. In this state it needs no food, but lies in some dark place, hanging head downwards by one of its feet. When the warm weather begins and insects are heard humming round, the bat wakes up too, and flies after them. For though bats will sometimes eat other things, insects are what they like best. Many of them are full of intelligence, and can easily be tamed. They will attach themselves to their masters, rub their heads against them, and even lick their hands. But in general they are not welcome guests inside houses, and are certainly very disturbing to have in one's room at night.
Most bats are of a dark colour, but strange stories are told of their being found of a brilliant scarlet. In each of these cases that have been noted the animal had chosen an odd place for its winter sleep, for it was found inside a tree which was perfectly smooth all round it, and there was nothing whatever to show how the bat came there. One of the trees was a wild cherry, in a wood on the Haining Estate in the county of Selkirk, and was cut down by a woodman, who was felling trees for fences, in the year 1821. The other tree was a pear, cut down near Kelsall five years later, but in both trees the place where the bat was hanging was just large enough to hold him, without much room to spare. Neither bat seemed in the least put out at his rough awakening, but spread its wings and sailed gaily away in search of its breakfast.
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