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Woman Goes to Bat for Misunderstood Mammal

Animals: Naturalist offers program in Oxnard to dispel myths about the winged creature.

September 21, 1998|COLL METCALFE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

But after meeting Milo and learning that all most bats do is eat bugs that are "super gross," she cleared some space in her heart.

"He's little like a hamster, and I think he can smile, too," Jessica said.

With an education degree from Cal State Northridge, Mashburn sees her bat show as an attempt to educate others about the unique creatures. She has more bat books, she said, than most libraries.

Ventura County's forested hinterlands are home to 12 bat species.

They are all insect eaters and generally steer clear of humans, but it isn't uncommon for them to be spotted hanging in the attics of homes.

The Ventura Keys, once a favored bat habitat, has one of the greatest suburban bat concentrations of any area in the county, she said.

Mashburn said she gets calls all the time from residents who have learned they have a few living beneath the eaves or inside a vent.

And while removing them is an option, she said leaving them is also fine and, in some cases, better.

"All they need is 3 to 4 inches of space to sleep," Mashburn said. "And they won't chew through the insulation or wires and they won't poop on the floor."

But, she cautioned against trying to make a pet out of them.

"They're very finicky," Mashburn said.

With the new school year just kicking into gear, Mashburn said she will remain busy introducing young and old to bats in hopes that a little education will help save them and their habitat.

"People seem to get really interested in them, which doesn't surprise me," she said. "It's a fun topic that's just odd enough to get their attention."

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FYI

Kris Mashburn's hourlong interpretive presentation on bats can be seen free of charge every Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Campfire Theater at McGrath State Beach off Harbor Boulevard in Oxnard.

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