World Book Night takes place on the 23rd of April every year. It is focused on encouraging people to read for fun, inspiring them to find relaxation between book pages. You might be surprised that many animals around us also spend much of their time around books. All around us, animal book lovers and book protectors can help us celebrate this event.
Bookworms have always been used to describe someone who loves literature, but did you know they exist? And more than that, they aren’t really worms! A bookworm is any bug that eats paper, book covers, or the binding glue holding it all together. The term covers booklice, beetles, cockroaches and even moths. Any bug that enjoys the taste of a good story can fall into this category. So many insects love diving into a good novel.
Curling up with a Good Book
Rodents are another big book lover. Mice, especially those tiny enough to get into houses and libraries, enjoy nothing more than settling down with a good book. Unlike the bookworm who loves to sink their teeth into a good book, mice prefer repurposing book pages to warm their homes. They like to shred paper to create a soft layer to line their indoor nests.
A Tell-Tail Sign
So with all these destructive little booklovers about, we need some literature superheroes to help keep our books safe. Luckily, the Book Scorpion is here to do just that. Just like bookworms, the name of the book scorpion is misleading. Despite belonging to the same Arachnida family, it’s not a scorpion. It is a much smaller creature missing the signature tail and stinger. These tiny pseudoscorpions live in books and prey on booklice, insect larvae and ants. They keep pages whole and bite-free.
The Purr-fect Reading Companion
Since the Middle Ages, when manuscripts first started to be regularly created, we have relied on one special companion in the library to help us protect books from rodents - the domesticated house cat! These common furry friends were originally hired to help with pest control, but they have many other benefits. From boosting morale in the library to assisting people in learning to read, having a cat around can help enhance the relaxed atmosphere of the library.
Hanging Out in the Library
But what if you don’t want to rely on Book Scorpions to protect books from bookworm? Well two libraries in Portugal seem to have come up with a solution. For centuries, the library of the University of Coimbra and Library at the National Palace of Mafra have been infested by bats! They’ve been more than welcome by librarians in these buildings as they swoop about at night catching the bugs which would harm the books. They have free reign over the manuscripts at night, darting in and out of the open windows. It may be an unusual solution, but it is definitely one that works.