Interview With a Bat

As part of our ongoing series of conversations with animals on policy and population control issues, we recently sat down with Muriel, an Australian fruit bat.

Us: Hi Muriel! It’s great to talk to you.

Muriel: (silence)

Us: Muriel?

Muriel: I read The Hairpin, you know.

Us: Ohhhhh. No, no, we didn’t mean it like THAT. Look at your little face! You’re not revolting. It’s just an in-joke, because…

Muriel: Because of Jolie and the cats. Right. I get it. But, honestly, Australians get stuck taking a lot of stupid jokes in stride.

Us: Really?

Muriel: Yeah. Oh, we’re all criminals. Oh, we carry disease. Oh, we have more animals that will kill you than anywhere else. And everyone forwards me the stuff about Crocodile Dundee, and that episode of The Simpsons, and Mel Gibson — I mean, you DO realize that Mel Gibson was born in Peekskill, New York, right? He didn’t even move to Australia until he was twelve. We are not responsible for Mel Gibson.

Us: But I thought everyone loved Australia?

Muriel: Do you remember a few years back, when the wildfires destroyed tremendous amounts of the country?

Us: Kind of?

Well, it was a horrible tragedy. And literally, no one in the United States asked me about it. No one. Not even a “hey, is your fruit bat family okay?” But when Steve Irwin died, I got, um, a dozen emails? We have a female Prime Minister, which I think is a big deal, but people don’t even talk about that. It’s all “g’day, mate,” all the time.

Us: Muriel, I am very sorry. We absolutely don’t want to treat you or your country like a punchline.

Muriel: But, you are about to ask if I’m carrying any diseases.


Muriel: I have no idea. Look, I live in a beautiful fruit bat commune on Fox Island, and we really just try to keep to ourselves. We deliver our own babies, we make huge vats of fruit chili, we engage in collective mediation to solve problems. It’s really pretty idyllic. The last thing we want is to spread any kind of disease or infection. But when people start moving in, and they have horses, and those horses have those big, meaty loins…it’s tempting! Honestly, though, if we had our way, it would basically look like FernGully.

Us: That sounds…kind of great.

Muriel: It is. And that’s why I’m not seriously offended by your little joke. I just wanted to educate you a bit.

Us: I will never speak ill of an Australian bat again. Except for these bats.

Muriel: Never met them. Would you like a grape?

Us: Please!