Late one evening we received an email concerning a bat found in a garage. It was right after a heavy windstorm that a man discovered the bat among debris blown in by the winds. Using a glove, he was able to get the bat into a glass jar. He then found Bat World online and sent us the email, along with a photo, asking for our help.
From the photo, we were able to determine the bat was likely a big free-tail (Nyctinomops macrotis), based on the size of the bat compared to the jar. Most disconcerting, however, was the unnatural positioning of the bat, indicating he was too large to fit inside the jar as well as being very frightened and disoriented. While this man had the best of intentions, it is important to note that a jar is a highly inappropriate place to keep a bat, even temporarily. There are several reasons. Glass allows in far too much light for the comfort of these animals who prefer dark seclusion. The slick surface offers nothing for the bat to grip in order to hang upside-down, much less to maintain simple balance. Bats, especially when frightened, attempt to use echolocation to orient themselves to their surroundings and these vocalizations only bounce around inside the jar, frightening the bat even more.
Naturally, we were quite concerned about the mental trauma this poor little guy was enduring on top of any physical problems he might have. We gave the caller instructions on how to move the bat safely from the jar and into a secure box that included a padded floor, places to hang and hide, and a shallow dish of water. A meeting place was decided for the following day in order to transfer the bat to Bat World Sanctuary. Upon arrival, the bat was thoroughly examined and although thin and dehydrated, he was in fairly good condition. High winds likely blew the wayward bat off course. We have no idea where his original colony is located, so it is impossible to return him to his home.
While these bats are known to be “native” to Texas, it’s quite rare to actually see one. They roost in tight clusters in rock crevices, but little else is known about them. They are currently one notch below “near threatened” on the endangered species list. However, with White Nose Syndrome spreading so rapidly, it is likely that many species will be listed as endangered in the near future.
Our new little friend has been named Gimlet and has adjusted well to life in our captive colony. Gimlet has the same wrinkled face and “Mickey Mouse” ears as the Brazilian free-tails (Tadarida brasiliensis) that make up the majority of our captive colony. Gimlet has been readily accepted by the other bats and they roost together throughout the day. Gimlet is hand-fed mealworms twice a day, and often chirps in excitement when he sees a mealworm coming his way. After all he’s been through, we’re delighted to know that Gimlet will spend the rest of his days in safety and comfort here at Bat World Sanctuary.