Grenada is a small country in the southern tip of the Caribbean island chain. It is full of colorful animals, lively culture and truly benevolent people.
I have been here for almost two weeks helping the Veterinary researchers at St. George University to study bats and the viruses they may carry. We have been trekking all around the island, North to South shore and everything in between, searching for bats. We climbed through abandoned houses, chocolate and nutmeg factories. Mist-netted at the military base, outside of schools, around people’s houses and outside of a bar.
We caught four of the twelve species on the island: Artibeus jamaicensis, Glossophaga longirostris, Molossus molossus and one Artibeus lituratus. We find that the Jamaican fruit bat (Artibeus jamaicensis) and the Miller’s long-tongued bat (Glossophaga longirostris) are, by far, the most common and the easiest to find as they roost exposed in the ceiling of abandoned or lightly used buildings.
At first, the Velvety free-tailed bat (Molossus molossus), was difficult to locate, but thankfully we have a very skilled and social vet helping us Dr. Carter. As we drove through small towns we started talking to people and pretty soon the bats were easy to find! While we are out we got a chance to talk to local people about the important aspects bats contribute to ecology. Grenadians are extremely receptive to this information we hope to have changed a few people’s minds that bats are good!