The food chain is alive and well here. Can’t say the same for all the participants, though. Under the louvres of this building wall is a colony of female bats and their young offspring. The louvres were specifically designed to encourage bats, and it is exciting to see it working as intended. So is a certain black rat snake. He or she has climbed the wall, some twenty feet up, to enter the colony and snack on its contents. The fruit of its labor can be seen in the pronounced bulge. His head is to the left, still tucked under the louvre; the bulge of his recent meal is to the right, seemingly too large to fit in the louvre.
The sad part of this story, though, is the immature bat pup to the left. I don’t know quite how he got there. Perhaps in the chaos of the snake entering the colony, he got separated from his mother and wandered out. I really hope that it is not his mother that is now in the belly of the snake, and that she’ll come out to reclaim the pup this evening. I can only hope, however. The pup has no fur and will likely not survive the night if mother does not claim him. I also hope for the bats’ sake that the snake is satisfied and will soon leave to digest his meal in private to give the colony a chance to recover. Our local bats are in the midst of a terrible population decline from white nose syndrome. I respect the snake’s right to assert his place in the food chain; I just wish it weren’t at the expense of a species under so much other pressure now. I think the bats in this case are big brown bats, a species once plentiful but now with a doubtful future, snake snacks aside.