Read CHAPTER V - BATS IN THE DEVIL'S KITCHEN of Wild Animals at Home , free online book, by Ernest Thompson Seton, on

It is unfortunate that the average person has a deep prejudice against the Bat.  Without looking or thinking for himself, he accepts a lot of absurd tales about the winged one, and passes them on and on, never caring for the injustice he does or the pleasure he loses.  I have loved the Bat ever since I came to know him; that is, all my mature life.  He is the climax of creation in many things, highly developed in brain, marvellously keen in senses, clad in exquisite fur and equipped, above all, with the crowning glory of flight.  He is the prototype and the realization of the Fairy of the Wood we loved so much as children, and so hated to be robbed of by grown-ups, who should have known better.

I would give a good deal to have a Bat colony where I could see it daily, and would go a long way to meet some new kind of Bat.

I never took much interest in caverns, or geysers, or in any of the abominable cavities of the earth that nature so plainly meant to keep hidden from our eyes.  I shall not forget the unpleasant sensations I had when first, in 1897, I visited the Yellowstone Wonderland and stood gazing at that abominable Mud Geyser, which is even worse to-day.  The entry in my journal of the time runs thus: 

“The Mud Geyser is unlike anything that can be seen elsewhere.  One hears about the bowels of the earth; this surely is the end of one of them.  They talk of the mouth of hell; this is the mouth with a severe fit of vomiting.  The filthy muck is spewed from an unseen gullet at one side into a huge upright mouth with sounds of oozing, retching and belching.  Then as quickly reswallowed with noises expressive of loathing on its own part, while noxious steam spreads disgusting, unpleasant odours all around.  The whole process is quickly repeated, and goes on and on, and has gone on for ages, and will go.  And yet one feels that this is merely the steam vent outside of the huge factory where all the actual work is being done.  One does not really see the thing at all, but only stands outside the building where it is going on.  One never wishes to see it a second time.  All are disgusted by it, but all are fascinated.”

No, I like them not.  I have a natural antipathy to the internal arrangements of Mother Earth.  I might almost say a delicacy about gazing on such exposure.  Anyhow, we shall all get underground soon enough; and I usually drop off when our party prepares to explore dark, horrible, smelly underground places that have no possible claim (I hold) for the normal being of healthy instincts.

But near the Mammoth Hot Springs is a hellhole that did attract me.  It is nothing else than the stuffy, blind alley known as the Devil’s Kitchen.  There is no cooking going on at present, probably because it is not heated up enough, but there is a peculiarly hot, close feeling suggestive of the Monkey house in an old-time zoo.  I went down this, not that I was interested in the Satanic cuisine, but because my ancient antipathy was routed by my later predilection-I was told that Bats “occurred” in the kitchen.  Sure enough, I found them, half a dozen, so far as one could tell in the gloom, and thanks to the Park Superintendent, Colonel L. M. Brett, I secured a specimen which, to my great surprise, turned out to be the long-eared Bat, a Southern species never before discovered north of Colorado.  It will be interesting to know whether they winter here or go south, as do many of their kin.  They would have to go a long way before they would find another bedroom so warm and safe.  Even if they go as far as the equator, with its warmth and its pests, they would probably have reason to believe that the happiest nights of their lives were those spent in the Devil’s Kitchen.