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"Gorillas, Lions and Hippos...one would think that enough excitement had already been experienced by yours truly, on his African sojourn. However, the fickle hand of fate decreed otherwise!.
On waking about four o-clock this morning in my hammock, I was rather disturbed at finding myself weltering in congealed blood, yet without feeling any pain whatever. Having started up, I hastily made for the tent of our resident Doctor (whom Providence has graciously allowed to be a member of our party), waking him from his deep sleep, to diagnose my alarming condition.
The mystery, however, was soon solved, for then I found that I had been bitten by a VAMPIRE BAT !
A most un-nerving experience, to say the least!
And yet, most species of the bat are rather inoffensive creatures; while a closer inspection of their wonderful organization proves them to be far more deserving of admiration than of repugnance.
Can anything be better adapted to its wants than the delicate membrane, which, extending over the long slim fingers, can be spread and folded like an umbrella, so as to form a wing when the animal wishes to fly, and to collapse into a small space when at rest?
How slight the bones, how light the body, how beautifully formed for flight! Admire also the tiny unwebbed thumb, which serves the bat to hook itself fast when resting, or to clip off the wings of the flies or moths , which it never devours with the rest of the body.
But the exquisite acuteness of the senses of smell, feeling and hearing in the bat is still more wonderful than its delicate flying apparatus.
Though the temperate regions possess many bats, yet they are more numerous and various in the woody regions of the tropical zone, where the vast numbers of the insect tribes and forest fruits afford them a never-failing supply of food.
There they also attain a size unknown in our latitudes, so that both from their dimensions and their physiognomy, many of the larger species have obtained the name of "flying dogs" or "flying foxes".
When the sun has disappeared below the horizon, and night falls on the landscape, which a little while ago was bathed in light, then from hollow trees, and creviced rocks, and ruined buildings, a strange and dismal race comes forth. Silently hovering through the glades of the woods, or skimming along the surface of the streams, it catches the crepuscular or nocturnal moths, and serves like a swallow by day to check the exhuberant multiplication of the insect tribes.
But while man loves the swallow, and suffers him to build his nest under the eaves of his dwelling, he abhors the bat, which like an evil spirit avoids the light of day, and seems to feel happy only in darkness.
The painter gives to his angels the white pinions of the swan, while his demons are made to bear the black wings of the bat."
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