Little Lost Bat

by Sandra Markle
illustrated by Alan Marks


Little Lost Bat is an informative picture book about Mexican free-tailed bats. The story follows the realistic encounters that a newborn bat faces each day. Although it is an informative picture book, it presents the information with beautiful language and tells the story with a personal attachment to the little bat. The descriptions are so poetic – inside of saying it’s very dark in the cave, Markle uses the wording “…it’s almost too dark for shadows.” To describe the appearance of the little bat at birth, she says he was “…naked-pink and tiny as a peanut in its shell.” As the female bats head out for their nightly hunt, Markle writes “The cloud of bats explodes into the twilight like dark fireworks.” I have never felt so connected and invested in an informative book, and I love how Markle approaches this story with her use of poetic language and vivid descriptions.

My favorite part of the story is a reoccurring phrasing about the dangers on the cave floor for baby bats:
“… to keep him from falling
to the waiting, hungry beetles
on the cave floor.”

Sadly, the mother bat is killed by a barn owl. The little bat, hungry and desperate for his mother, calls her for days, but she never comes. Eventually, another female bat whose own baby is missing takes in little bat as her own. According to the author’s note, “…as many as 10% of all Mexican free-tailed bat mothers aren’t the genetic mothers of the babies they’re nursing.”

I learned some interesting things about bats. I didn’t know that bats had to eat their weight in insects each night! I also learned that bats have one baby at a time. Mother and child learn a unique call to find each other, with some assistance from their keen sense of smell.

Some questions I still had after reading – Why do the female bats not have help from their partners? Where are all the adult male bats at, and what are they doing?! I found out from this website that these are temporary nursing colonies and after about a month they rejoin with the regularly colony.


2 Responses to “Little Lost Bat”

  1. 1 Amy Moser

    I was too fascinated with the way that mammals have this natural sense of nurturing their young, even when it is true that is was not the originial mother-baby relationship. It is almost like nature’s way of adoption, and how new bonds can be formed so quickly and grow into a complete family.

    After reading your blog on Little Lost Bat, I had a few questions myself, as I do not know very many facts about the bat species. Why are they called Mexican free-tailed bats? Do they primarily live in Mexico? Do they have a tail or not? I learned that these bats are also known as the Brazilian free-tailed bats and during the summertime, they colonize in areas such as Austin, Texas. Austin also serves as the location for the largest baby bat nursery. It is unknown as to where they go during the winter months, but these bats live all over the U.S. and from Texas to Argentina. I also learned that these bats do have a tail that is located between their feet. They use their tails for “echolocation” in order to hunt and navigate precisely.; check out the video!

  2. 2 Leslie Panaro

    I found your review interesting and decided to take a look at this book while at the library. The first think that caught my eye was the beautiful illustrations, which appeared to be water-color paintings. I am usually don’t have interest in learning about various species of bats, ha, but I found the website you mentioned in the blog useful. Markle’s language, description, and tone kept me interested throughout the story – as well as connecting me to the story of the baby bat, the lost mother (which…after typing that…I realize that the title is the Little Lost Bat, however the mother is the one who is lost in the literal sense of the word),and the nursing bat. I finished this story feeling less like I had finished an informational picture book and more like I had read a story written in poetic verse.

    After linking to the website, I talked with my neighbor is from San Antonio, Texas. I told her about the book and that I learned these bats are found in parts of Mexico and Texas. At first, when I mentioned the Mexican free-tailed bat it didn’t ring a bell with her. But then, she stated, “Oh, you mean guano bats. Those things are everywhere!” She told me she didn’t know a whole lot about them, but that she recalls often seeing articles in the newspapers about new findings by scientists and researchers.

    I also made a connection between this story and Stellaluna. The two picture books both tell heart-wrenching stories of bats that are separated from their mothers. However, the bats are different species (fruit bat vs. Mexican free-tailed bat). Both baby bats become “adopted” by another family. In Stellaluna, though, she stumbles her way back to her biological mother.

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