Captured by cameras for the first time

The last time Leah came to visit overnight we forced her to watch three-days worth of “The Dog Whisperer,” and by the time she left she was poking us in the neck with her thumb and forefinger to get us to stop chewing on shoes. We have since seen every episode of “The Dog Whisperer,” twice, and now our new obsession is “Planet Earth,” an 11-part series about our planet, filmed over a 5-year period in 200 different locations. We watched at least 4 of the 11 episodes while she was here, including the one dedicated to life in caves, and let’s just say that any misconceptions we may have had about bat poop HAVE BEEN CLEARED UP.

“Is that what I think it is?” she asked as the camera panned up a 300-ft tall mountain of bat droppings.

“That depends on what you think it is,” I answered.

“I think we’re looking at a heap of bat poo.” And for the next seven hours I had to resist blurting out BAT POO whenever there was a lull in conversation.

Up until that point in my life I hadn’t ever been confronted with the idea that bats excrete anything, let alone the fact that this excrement would perform such a vital function in their habitat. That mound of Very Important Bat Poo provides essential nutrients to millions of cockroaches who in turn serve as food for something else, and so on and so on, and years later you’re sitting there eating a chicken burrito for dinner that was made possible because some bat flying around in a cave in New Mexico decided to use the potty. SCIENCE IS AWESOME.

So we get to the end of the episode where they take a couple of minutes to show how the camera crews infiltrate these areas to get such interesting shots, and there’s this British camera man talking about the suits they all have to wear while filming so that the cockroaches don’t crawl into their pants, and he keeps referring and gesturing to the mountain of poo behind him. Except his accent makes it so that when he says POO, it sounds like he’s talking about some sort of rare, elegant cheese you might serve with expensive champagne, and suddenly Leah’s looking at me, and I’m looking at her, like, I know we’re supposed to be grossed out, but this man could be describing maggot larvae and I’d still want to throw my panties at the television.

  • Jennine

    Not even a champagne truffle from Godiva would make me enter a cave with a 300 ft tower of bat poo. I hope he bathed himself in Clorox.

  • kalisah

    hey anita – I don’t think “Be a Friend” is a Mormon song is it? I thought it came from a Disney movie…

  • Erik

    For more information on the power of Guano, I suggest you rent Ace Venture: When Nature Calls.

  • littlefirecrack

    I am sure that the episode with all the POOP was totally fascinating to Leta poop POOp pOOP, pooooop!

  • J. Bo

    And now we all know why Batman and Robin wear tights tucked into their boots– it’s on accounta the poo in the Bat Cave…

  • Anonymous

    Planet Earth is fascinating, but these shows aren’t new. They were out last season.

    Sigourney Weaver (the narrator) is good, but if the guy at the end makes you want to throw your panties and/or knickers, you should get the BBC version. David Attenborough is phenomenal.

    Bat guano is awesome. Supposedly, it is a fantastic fertilizer.

  • m@

    The bad poo is the one memory I have of Carslbad Caverns. Ah, the smell.

    And I’d like to go on record saying that “Planet Earth” is the most awe-inspiring nature special ever. And not just because of a 3-story tall mound of Bat Poo.

    Although the DVD’s are strangely lacking Sigourney Weaver’s narration and it no longer says “… for the first time ever” every 5 minutes.

  • Meredith

    I managed to spend the whole weekend staring in awe at the Discovery Channel. When I had watched them all through, some friends came over and I tried to coerce them into watching them again with me. They didn’t stand for it for long, though, because I kept ruining all the surprises…

    “Don’t worry! No blood is shed! The deer on the right gives up and walks away!”

    Your site is wonderful, by the way. It never fails to make me laugh. Keep up the good work/hilarity. Don’t let the haters get you down.

  • chantel

    I LOVE Planet Earth. When it was first announced I put it in my outlook calendar, then I added it to my google calendar just in case outlook failed that day. Then I made my kids come and watch all the episodes with me because I’m one of those parents who forces their children to watch documentaries on punk rock and bat poo. Pretty much the same thing isn’t it?

  • Lori

    I don’t care about the poo but the roaches no way ,I skipped that episode and am really glad that I did

  • Noemi

    Yup, British accents pretty much make anything ~*classy*~

    … you know unless it’s a cockney accent.

  • MamaBear1001

    LOL – i have nothing intelligent to say but feel compelled to post anyway b/c comments are open and there aren’t 100 yet!

    bat guano. used to be an imported luxury for fertilizer, yet. but in the end, it’s all just poop.

  • She Likes Purple

    I thought the same thing, every time I watched one of the crew members describe anything. Although I missed the bat poo episode. I was probably busy downing tequila, trying to calm myself down from the polar bear episode. I would have fed myself to one, if given the chance, after watching how they’re collectively starving to death. I’m buying the coffee table book for my husband for Christmas.

  • Lizzie

    All I want for christmas is a british announcer boyfriend to narrate for me on command.

  • Cate

    Mmm…British accents…

    Okay, so I’m really just commenting because you have comments open and I am compelled to tell you that I love the little descriptions you’ve added to the daily pics.

  • Z

    I watched that mound of poop LIVE! as it aired for the first time and I remember someone saying something about hearing a collective “Ewwwww….” from off in the distance.

  • angela

    LOVE Planet Earth. I prefer the version narrated by David Attenborough.

  • Connie

    You should teach Leta how to say “poo” like the British man. Seriously. You really should.

  • Laur

    I’ve never seen this show, but it certainly sounds interesting. I may just have to start watching it now. I’ve always wanted to learn more about bat poop, after all. What could be more fascinating? Besides maybe dolphin sex, but I already know about that. I have my 6th grade science teacher to thank for that – and I must admit, it’s probably the only lesson I paid attention to in any science class I ever took. Had we learned about bat poop as well, that would’ve made two… but alas.

  • Annabelle

    I could watch Die Hard 1 over and over again just to listen to Alan Rickman. “You ask for a miracle, I give you the F-B-I.” Love.

  • Wieslaw Samek

    Everything looks much better in HD. Some time in the future other sensory improvements in TV technology will make it even more realistic.

  • Jen

    Planet Earth is awesome! The series is really gorgeous. The bat poo was astounding. After I got over the bat poo, and how much of it there was, they went on to glow-worms.

  • mcgee

    You discovered it! It’s a fantastic series, especially with the original narration that David Attenborough did. I remember exactly the scene you’re talking about, and I believe I did indeed toss my panties at the television.

  • ollka

    So. You just wrote a whole post about BAT POO. Just like that. Man, you’re good!

    Also: the “question for testing whether I’m a human visitor and to prevent spam comments” just asked me to type “plain Troy”. Awesome.

  • Rebecca

    So apparently I now belong to the ‘Very Proudly British’ camp :)

    I love this series. It aired on the BBC in the UK a few years back and I subsequently brought the DVD set. Though I don’t know why they’ve changed the narrator to Sigourney Weaver – much as I love her, I wouldn’t choose her over The Legend That Is David Attenborough, who narrated the series over here…

    Trust me when I say that, while bat poo is, most definately, an intriguing and as-yet undiscovered miracle worker, you ain’t seen nothing til you’ve seen the episode about mountains and the footage of the snow leopards. It’s breathtaking.

  • Natalie

    I went to Rainforest Cafe one time and I heard the server behind me tell a couple that the particular chicken dish they wanted to order had a heaping serving of “guano sauce” on top of it. Do you know I have not eaten there since? I’m sure he really said guava, but my ears heard guano, and that’s all she wrote. The reason I am telling you this is because everytime someone mentions bat poo I start twitching uncontrollably until I tell my story.

    I’m currently obsessed with Planet Earth as well, but I have to steer clear of that episode for obvious reasons.

  • cauloccoli

    The best thing about bat poo is that it has its own special name. Gotta love GUANO.

  • drawer queen

    Bats are very good luck. My crazy neighbor had one that lived on the beam in his bedroom and he collected the poo to fertilize his plants and named it and watched for it to come back each night.

    Okay, maybe only good luck if you are totally insane.

  • V

    I just wanted to comment before it closed. I would read every day even if every post was about bat poo. Honest. Merry Christmas.

  • Tess

    I saw only one episode – the starving polar bears in the artic. After 10 mins., I was ready to grab some seal meat from Costo, assemble an expedition and save these magnificent creatures. Husband no longer allows me to watch….

  • Rochelle

    According to Guano can come from bats or seabirds. Especially seabirds off the coast of Peru. So I guess it wasn’t guano that nailed me while I was sunbathing in Huntington Beach.

  • Bryan Davis

    Such is the power of an English accent. There’s a reason we only play the bad guys in Hollywood movies you know!

  • Jess

    I tried to watch that series because it looked so beautifully shot… Unfortunately I only made it in 3 episodes before the requisite “adorable-baby-animal-or-old-lonely-defenseless-outcast-animal-meets-its-maker-
    in-an-incredibly-gruesome-and-tortured-way” scenes made me too depressed. They were literally spaced every fifteen minutes–have you noticed that?

    But yeah, guano, pretty cool stuff.

    Did you know the bat on the Bacardi symbol is there because the soil where the sugar cane grows is fertile from bat POO?

  • Catherine

    I can’t get the terrifying thought of cockroaches invading the pants of an entire film crew out of my head…

  • mjf

    I love that show!
    Thanks for the wonderful blog you provide us
    (people without their own life) with.

  • Tootise

    You had me at POO and lost me at COCKROACHES. Now I’m itchy.

  • rebecca

    i wonder if bats ever defecate while hanging upside down.. that would be rather troublesome. science is cool!

  • Sarah

    So do Friday nights consist of the hubby saying poo repeatedly in a British accent? Hey whatever gets your motor revving. I’m not here to judge.

  • Bente Lilja Bye

    I was going to say that Leta will continue to talk about poo for a number of years to come, when I realized that you are talking about your friend Leah and not your 4 year old daughter. Well, judging from the conversation you have with your adult friend, the period where Leta always will feel compelled to let you know exactly what she is going to do, pooing or peeing, will last a lot longer than average with her genes…:-)

    If you’re interested in the planet Earth you can always check out my site for some deep secrets. ;-) I even managed to make a documentary from China and Tibet, too.

    I enjoy very much your sense of humor and Leta is absolutely adorable.

  • Kriss

    I think there’s something in your water.

    I just made my Very British Husband say “Bat Poo”, and it did nothin’ for me.

  • John

    When you say “bat poo”, you have to sing the theme from the batman and Robin TV show first:
    da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, BAT POO.

    Now wash THAT out of your head :-)

  • Lullaby

    Thanks all…you know what’s going to be running through my head tonight during the “very serious discussion’ with my husband……

    da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, BAT POO.

  • Becki

    I, too, was confused over the similarity of Leah’s name to Leta’s. I’ve skipped a few weeks of reading the blog and at first glance I thought maybe you lost custody of Leta in some strange circumstance. I was ready to head up a fundraiser for your legal defense and rally around your cause to get your daughter back. But alas, it was your friend, not your daughter. Whewwww!!!

  • Betty

    My 3 year old son is in love with Leta, can they get betrothed soon? He loves watching her video and the one underneath the bat poo entry he watches with rapt attention. His only comment, “She have wipees too!”.

  • mleiv

    Meh. Only the Welsh accent does it for me. :P

    BTW, Drupal *AND* recaptcha? That hubby of yours is DA MAN!

  • DM

    I love Planet Earth. We watched the one about the seasonal forests yesterday and I wanted to adopt all of the animals, except for the pine marten with his eating of bird eggs and squirrels (I am quite fond of birds and squirrels). And yes, an English accent is the best. I think Alan Rickman is the sexiest man ever, especially as Snape.

  • Kathy

    When I read the words “bat poo” the first thing I thought of was — and I think this is a Discovery Channel (love the Discovery Channel) show — “Dirtiest Jobs,” the vomit island episode. It was lacking a british camera man saying “poo” repeatedly, though.

  • Kate

    I’ve been a complete and utter fan of Planet Earth since it aired in the UK with David Attenborough narrating…I think he adds a little something special to the episodes. I think in that cave episode (which is my favourite), there was a short feature on caves which had high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide gas. In those caves, instead of stalagmites and stalagtites, they had ‘snotites’. They’re like stalactites but basically just colonies of bacteria which feed off the gas, dripping from the cave ceilings, that really do look like snot. Except that they drip sulfuric acid strong enough to dissolve clothing.

    I LOVE Planet Earth.

  • Jen

    My husband and I refer to “Planet Earth” as Planet Death, since it seems like we are watching way too many cute furry things being chased and eaten on the tube. The images are breathtaking, however, if I sense death is around the corner for poor unsuspecting creature, I must leave the room. The circle of life, although fascinating and a must, can be a bit hard to stomach.

  • Angelique

    Great, now I am besieged by the Batman theme. My roomates and I in college used to call each other Derfla, Nibor and Namtab.
    … ya know, backwords.
    Try saying “I’m batman” circa Micheal Keatin in that low voice of his… but saying it as “I’m Namtab”. Seriously.
    As an aside, and while we are on poop, how has potty training been, Dooce. My son is fighting it with every ounce of his being….