We rescue starving orphaned free-tailed bats from our wild sanctuary every summer. Normally we find and save one to two per day, but one Sunday in July of 2012, we rescued 16. The videos below tell the story of The Sunday Sixteen.
Author: Bat World Sanctuary
So often we are asked, “How is it that you have bats from around the world? From where do you get your bats?” Well, the majority are obtained from the general public; people who find orphans or a bat laying helpless in a parking lot. Orphans also come from our wild sanctuary, and still others are retired from zoos and research, and are seized from the illegal pet trade. And then there is the rare exception—the bat that arrives without our knowledge; the special package concealed in a mother’s tummy. It is about this exceptional life that we bring you the story of an infant straw colored fruit bat that arrived on May 18th, 2007.
Bianca, the mother, was brought to us in March of 07. She had suffered inhumane circumstances so we gave her a lot of space in order to gain her trust. It was rewarding to watch her slim frame grow larger with the plentiful food she now receives. But based on experience, the roundness that developed over the next few months was unmistakable. Bianca was with pup.
A few evenings later we heard the calls of a newly born bat pup and went into the fruit bat’s flight cage expecting to see that all was well. However, instead of clinging to Bianca’s stomach, the pup was dangling from her back. Bianca resisted any help when we gently tried to scoot the baby around to her front, making a hasty retreat and almost knocking her pup loose as she dragged it along the plastic screening of the cage.
The pup desperately hung on for dear life but the mother made no attempt to help it. We kept a watchful eye on the pair for the next hour, noting sadly that the mother was not attempting to nurse or even nurture her pup. Two hours passed, and on our last inspection at midnight we found the precious baby girl lying cold on the floor of the flight cage.
The pup’s tiny form was quickly gathered and warmed as we took her into the hospital area, where it was discovered that her toes were severely damaged, most likely from being dragged along the screen mesh of the cage. She would never have a quality life if we did not save her toes. We had to quickly devise a means to protect them. We used finger cots to cover her injured feet, filling them with antibiotic ointment before slipping them over her tiny feet. Pain medication and antibiotics were also administered.
Days passed. The tiny girl clung to life, despite her cold introduction to life. She looked forward to her meals, greedily sucking down her goats-milk formula from a small latex puppy nurser. Weeks passed and her toes slowly healed. Eventually her little protective ‘boots’ were no longer needed.
It was time to give this special girl a name. As luck would have it, an internet search of African names brought us “Busana – Girl of the Night Moon”. Because of her special circumstances we decided on a slight variation, ‘Bootsanna’. For the first 10 weeks of her life Bootsanna carried a soft puppy nurser (her pacifier) in her mouth all the time and yelled whenever she dropped it. She continued to yell – almost brat-like – until someone placed it back into her mouth. At around 10 weeks of age she decided banana was better than a nurser, so solid food (which she also yelled for) was slowly introduced. Every day Bootsanna was also given flapping exercises, as much as she enjoyed.
She spent loads of time playing on her two baskets; one was used for feeding and playtime and another one was used for sleeping. Bootsanna loved to ‘bat at’ her numerous toys and silk flowers, spending a hour or more entertaining herself before sleep would finally overtake her. Eventually we were able to hang her basket inside the fruit bats flight cage so she could slowly get used to the other fruit bats.
Bootsanna is able to hang up-side down and is now living full time with the fruit bats in their large, natural habitat flight cage. She is enjoying her rightful place in just being a bat.
The phone rang at 6:30 on a Monday morning in April 2005. A man stated he had three Egyptian fruit bats, a mother, father and baby. He had been keeping them as pets but now wished to them place at Bat World. He would not give his name or say where he had obtained the bats; he simply said he was not being fair to them. He said he had happened upon our Spring ’05 issue of Bat World News, and after reading our article on the inhumane practice of keeping fruit bats as pets he realized he was not giving them what they needed. He had them for a year and never put them in a flight cage.
He said he had researched our website and thought perhaps that was why the last baby had died. He did not want this one to perish as well. He seemed genuinely upset by any harm he may have caused the bats. We commended him for his honesty and compassion for the animals and assured him they would have the life they so richly deserved – they would be given the necessary diet, have toys for enrichment, roosts of their choice, they would be examined daily and most of all they would be with their own kind, flying as much as they liked. When he left he looked very relieved, then he simply disappeared around the corner.
The baby was undersized and underweight, but otherwise, the trio appeared healthy so they were allowed to join the other fruit bats in their new home. Over the next few days the baby was found alone and her mother seemed disinterested despite her baby’s attempt to nuzzle with her. Fortunately, the baby was old enough to begin eating solid foods, so we encouraged her to to eat fruit by placing tiny bits of banana in her mouth. She learned almost immediately, so she was given all the tiny pieces of fruit she could eat in a modified cup, just her size.
It wasn’t long before the tiny girl discovered our Egyptian fruit bat matriarch, Cleobatra, roosting in her favorite hammock and resting her crippled toes. When the tiny girl attempted to snuggle with Cleo, she nuzzled the baby’s beautiful little face and seemed to tuck the baby under her wing. As the days passed the baby continued to roost next to Cleobatra. At times she looked like a miniature version of Cleo, even mimicking Cleo’s posture and actions. It wasn’t long before she earned the name “Cleobatra Mini-Me”, or Mini-Me, for short. Although Mini-me is growing bigger and stronger by the day, she remains undersized. Mini-Me seems extremely happy here at Bat World, unaware that she is so tiny. To this day she continues to roost with Cleobatra.
There was no knock at the door or phone call to alert us that a bat had been placed into the rescue box at the back door. But the red flag attached to the side of the box was raised, so we found him shortly thereafter. Apparently his rescuers thought they would be responsible for the harm that had befallen the bat, when in actuality, they had saved his life. He was wrapped in a washcloth, which when removed revealed a big brown bat completely enveloped in a full coil of fly paper. Several areas of his skin and fur were pulled and stretched tightly from his helpless attempts to free himself from the substance that covered his body. Unfortunately, the more he fought, the more he became entangled.
For three hours we worked on freeing him from his torturous prison. The fly paper covered his face, wings, body, legs and toes. It was the worst case of this sort that I have ever seen. Cotton swabs soaked in mineral oil helped to remove the gluey mess from his delicate skin, and scissors were used to clip the huge areas of fur from his body. After his small body was freed, he had to be bathed and dried, then thoroughly checked over. It usually takes several baths to remove all the traces of glue and oil. Yet despite the stress and pain he endured during the process of removing the sticky substance from his tender skin and once beautiful fur, he seemed grateful.
Unfortunately, much of his wing membrane was damaged and torn from his struggles. It appeared the “Sticky” was here to stay. However, the worst of the damage from flypaper is not readily obvious. Bats often ingest small globs of glue trying to clean the paper off themselves. This glue forms a mass inside the intestines that can lead to an obstruction and death. Sticky survived the cleaning process, but it was several days before we were positive he had no internal blockages. Through it all, Sticky’s sweet nature endured. Sticky was one of the lucky ones, he survived. But he cannot sustain flight for long periods of time so he is now a permanent resident at Bat World Sanctuary. He spends his time enjoying the company of his own kind in a natural habitat flight cage.
Please remember, flytraps are often ineffective, but if you must use them please fashion a wire cover around them allowing flies to enter while keeping other animals safe. We owe it to bats like Sticky.
The Little River Zoo is now closed, and for that we are thankful.
At one time this zoo housed over 100 Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus), but only 8 bats remained when Bat World was contacted. Sadly, when the zoo closed, the other 92 bats entered the exotic pet trade. They were bartered like carnival toys, then crammed into tiny cages for transport, causing mothers to abandon their babies out of stress. From there they were shipped all over the US to be sold to collectors.
Quite often – on the Internet- you will see pictures of Egyptian fruit bats huddled together with their beautiful faces looking pensive (even to the casual observer). Because of their beauty they suffer greatly as they are prized amongst the exotic pet trade. These bats are capable of living up to 25 years in captivity when provided with the quality of life they deserve. Bats entering the pet trade generally end up kept in small wire cages in someone’s living room, with no companions and nothing to entertain their active minds. In these conditions, they are likely to live less than a year. Why is it that people -human beings- feel justified in maintaining these spectacular creatures in such a stark manner when their natural habitat consists of lush forests and they seek refuge in amongst gardens, ancient tombs and temples and caves?
The eight remaining bats were held in reserve by the individual in charge of re-homing the zoo animals because she wanted them for herself. As luck would have it, this individual later decided to relinquish all eight bats to us. It was then that we learned of the fate of the others. Bat World Sanctuary was contacted by both the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association to see if we could obtain the bats from their current owner. Amanda Lollar, Bat World’s President, spoke with the bat’s owner at length over the course of several weeks.
The owner wavered back and forth about the number of bats she was willing to give up, claiming that she wanted to keep at least two for breeding stock. Finally, she decided to relinquish all eight bats. Later that afternoon the bats were issued a health certificate for transportation and arrangements were made to pick them up within the next 24 hours.
Kim, a Bat World volunteer who is bat trained, drove to Oklahoma to pick up the bats for their journey to safety. Although she was not allowed to take photographs, Kim described the enclosure in detail. Entering the zoo required driving through several locked gates. As she drove inside, she noticed a foul odor that grew stronger as she approached the animal cages. Finally there, she realized the stench was that of decay and death. The bats were housed in a small, wire cage that measured approximately 2’ x 6’ x 5’ high. At first glance it appeared the wire of the cage was black in color, but as she moved closer, she realized the wires were actually ‘moving’, because every single wire strand was covered with roaches. The floor of the cage was also a seething mass of insects. The cage contained no food, no water and no enrichment. The bats were crammed into a corner, trying to hide behind each other. Kim could see in their eyes that they were terrified; she wished she could somehow convey to them that their endless days of misery were finally over.
As the bats were gathered from their cage, one of them panicked and fell on the floor and it was instantly covered in roaches. Kim immediately reached down with gloved hands and began brushing the insects off of the frightened animal. The bats were loaded into a clean mesh carrier with a padded floor where they quickly moved towards the back of the cage to hide behind the synthetic foliage provided for them. The carrier was covered with a dark towel to give the bats a sense of security and to keep them warm.
Once at Bat World, we immediately examined the bats, checking for both injuries and parasites. Some of the bats were quite thin. One bat was found to be perhaps 20 years old. He likely had spent his entire life at that zoo.
When the bats entered our 55’ long flight cage for the first time, they seemed unsure of their new environment. Their faces portrayed a look of stunned excitement, as if they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Almost all of the bats attempted to fly, but their wings were so weak that they sailed to the softly-padded floor instead. Within days, however, all 8 bats were able to fly as nature intended, including the oldest male.
The Little River Eight will never go hungry again. They now receive a variety of fresh fruit daily, sprinkled with vital nutrients. Their new expansive home is a simulated, natural environment covered with foliage on the ceiling, grapevines and ropes from which to hang and climb, camouflaged roosting areas with padded hammocks for bats who find it difficult to hang, toy boxes filled with dozens and dozens of toys to occupy their inquisitive minds, nightly fruit kabobs, and new friends they will keep for life.
Amongst all the other Egyptian fruit bats in our care, the Little River Eight are very easy to spot because of the golden brown color oftheir fur. As attractive as this color may appear, unfortunately, it is due to the unbalanced diet they were forced to endure. With fresh, nutritious food and proper care, in time their fur will return to a more natural coloration of grayish brown.
The natural range of the Egyptian fruit bat is from the Middle East through most of Africa, and of course especially Egypt. Very few people are aware that 70% of the fruit in the marketplace today is bat pollinated; not by birds, not by bees, by bats. Egyptian fruit bats born to a colony remain with that colony for life. The Little River 8 did not have that opportunity but they do have a new family who readily welcomed them to a new life where they will always be protected.
Binky is an African straw-colored fruit bat (Eidolon helvum) born with a birth defect to his lower jaw.
When he was born, his lower jaw extended to the side and did not allow his mouth to close properly. Consequently, he had a difficult time eating. Binky was also a runt and had a hard time holding his own in the bat colony where he lived before coming to Bat World Sanctuary. The facility where he was born could not care for him and was looking for a home that could provide him with the love and attention he needed. As soon as we learned about Binky we immediately offered to take him.
To accommodate his birth defect, the fruit was cut smaller than for that of the average flying fox. Binky’s diet consists of grapes, pears, mangos, bananas, kiwis, figs, apples and other fruits.
When Binky arrived he was very, very shy. He peeked out from behind large ferns that hang from the cage ceiling, barely venturing out to explore the flight area. Despite his shyness, Binky almost immediately bonded with one of our larger, slightly overweight flying-foxes named Brutus. The pair became inseparable, even lazily sharing a hammock by day.
Binky eventually overcame his shyness and is happy, very social and energetic. His jaw straightened as he grew and his defect is now only occasionally noticeable. Binky was retired from the Adopt-a-Bat program in 2017. With most of his challenges now behind him, we hope to give Binky a very long and happy life.
In May of 2012, an orphaned Jamaican fruit bat was brought to us attached to her dead mother, who was purchased as a pet a couple of months ago. The person who bought her didn’t know she was pregnant. The mom likely couldn’t pass the placenta, which can be fatal. The baby is fine now, thanks to the gal who owned them and realized she could not care for a newborn fruit bat.After joining our facebook page she realized that it was wrong to keep bats as pets, and she wants us to share that in this post, and we commend her for that.
We are calling the baby Tinkerbell, after her mom. At first Tinkerbell was very cold, dehydrated and reluctant to eat, but was doing much better within a couple of days. Within three months she was full grown and doing well, and now eats fruit and lives in a large flight enclosure with the at residents at Bat World Sanctuary. Click photos to enlarge.
Boo2 was born here at Bat World Sanctuary after his mother was rescued from a horrible situation at the now closed Little River Zoo. She was one of the eight remaining bats who were rescued, and came to us while pregnant.
Like Peekaboo, a similar zoo rescue, Boo2 had loads of personality. We are so grateful to have rescued him from the dire conditions to which he could have been born. He has become best buddies with Peekaboo, as evidenced by the photo below.
PLEASE BOYCOTT “THE EXPENDABLES 2!
The movie “The Expendables 2” caused massive damage to a cave that has a status of a natural monument. Bulgaria’s environmental protection agency had already fined the Hollywood production company for unlawfully removing shrubs and small trees, when something far worse occurred. The producers had promised to refrain from explosions, car chases and fires in close proximity to the cave in order to protect the bats roosting inside the cave, but apparently did not keep that promise. The sleeping bats were subjected to stress, loud noise from heavy machinery and construction works, bright projector lights and crowds of people which kept them awake during a period when they should have been hibernating. On later investigation, no bats could even be located in areas of the cave where they would normally be hibernating. Instead, the tire tracks of large vehicles, likely used during the shoot, were found in those areas. Bat expert Antonia Hubancheva, who visited the cave after the shooting, said the damage was “unquestionable. The cave was home to 15 protected species of bats, or half of all bats found in Bulgaria. UPDATE: Court Rules in Favor of Hollywood-harmed Bats.
Please send a letter to the filmmakers Millennium Films and Warner Brothers. Let them know that you intend to boycott “The Expendables 2”, and send a message that you will not tolerate behavior that includes disregard for wildlife and wildlife habitat. A sample letter is included below.
Millennium email address: email@example.com
Warner Brothers web form: http://www.warnerbros.com/help/customer-service.html
Dear Millennium Films and Warner Brothers,
Devetashka Cave in central northern Bulgaria, Lovech Region, is considered one of the most important bat habitats in Europe, yet the making of the Expendables 2 caused the deaths of bats roosting in that cave. The sacrifice of these bats was unjustified, unsustainable, and morally wrong.
I intend to tell all my friends about the irresponsible behavior which caused a loss of life to thousands of protected bats, in one of the most valuable bat habitats in Europe. I also intend to actively encourage the boycott of The Expendables 2, and will encourage my friends and family to also boycott your film. As a purportedly ethical society, it is time we moved beyond the practice of sacrificing free-living animals for entertainment.
Bats are in rapid decline around the world. As primary predators of vast quantities of night-flying insects, including serious crop pests, bats are important to the agricultural interests of the planet. Foe more information about bats and how they help our planet please visit www.batworld.org.
This would have been an account of yet one more bat whose fate was sealed, due to an unfortunate encounter with “Tanglefoot Bird Repellant,” had it not been for kind-hearted Jennifer Michaelis, who was leaving a store in Weatherford, Texas, in August and noticed two children pouring water over something small and alive on the ground. She took the time to inspect their activities and saw the tormented creature was a struggling bat covered in a thick, sticky substance that resembled molasses. The bat was completely incapacitated. She cautioned the children to stop what they were doing and immediately went inside a “Big Lots” store to retrieve a box in which to put the bat. It was then she found out that the manager of Big Lots had placed bird repellant along the top edge of the building to keep the pigeons from roosting on the building.
Glue traps and sticky repellants of any kind do great harm to wildlife. Tanglefoot in particular is an insidious product which causes great suffering, incapacitating wildlife, and necessitates immediate first aid intervention. Animals get the Tanglefoot onto their beaks and in their mouths, causing them to suffocate, dehydrate, or slowly starve to death. The company who makes the product claims: “Tanglefoot Bird Repellent is a nondrying, non-toxic compound or paste that adheres to all types of surfaces while remaining sticky.”
The bat that Jennifer Michaelis rushed to place in our care had glue over her eyes, her limbs; every inch of her delicate body was drenched in the gooey substance and to make it worse, since she had contact with the ground, dirt and debris became part of the goop that was covering her.
Repeated applications of vegetable oil were applied to remove the adhesive, followed by bathing with Dawn liquid detergent. In all, over the course of two days, the bat was oiled and bathed eleven times. Additionally some of the goo remained on her neck and muzzle creases which required seven more baths to those areas.
We asked Jennifer if she wished to name the bat she saved, and she chose to name her Sarah, after her daughter, who is a bat enthusiast. Thank you, Jennifer, for saving Sarah and driving 45 minutes each way to bring her to us for medical treatment.
Note: You can help prevent bats and birds from untimely deaths from glue traps and adhesive bird repellants. Please write to Big Lots and encourage them to stop using these products, and please encourage them not to sell any type of glue traps for mammals.
Big Lots Corporate Headquarters
300 Phillipi Road
Columbus, OH 43228Please also write to the makers of Tanglefoot and let them know their product is cruel and causes great suffering and death to wildlife:The Tanglefoot Company
314 Straight Avenue, S.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504-6485
Fax: (616) 459-4140