Footage from Bat World Sanctuary’s new critter cam at new deer feeder (all items were recently donated). Images from the very first night also include rabbits, a bobcat, a possum and squirrels. All of these animals have protection on Bat World Sanctuary’s land.
By Amanda Lollar
What do bats smell like? We get this question a lot and it’s actually a fun question to answer. Bats do have an odor but they don’t stink; in fact, their scents range from pleasant to weird depending on the species and even their activities. Below is a personal description of the various “essences of bats” I have encountered over the past 25 years.
BRAZILIAN FREE-TAILED BATS
I first noticed the smell of Brazilian free-tails back in the early 90s when I detected a familiar odor coming from their tiny 2″ bodies.
For the longest time I couldn’t put my finger on what they smelled like, I just knew the scent was pleasant. Then, one day, while walking down a grocery store aisle, I smelled it, the unmistakable smell of a Brazilian free-tailed bat – only it wasn’t a bat, it was corn tortillas! I picked up a package, held it under my nose and sniffed. There it was, the sweet smell of corn masa – so close to a free-tailed bat it was hard to tell the difference. Years later I shared this information with my then co-author and she shared it with a researcher who decided to investigate further. Using odor-tracking software, the researcher discovered that Brazilian free-tailed bats share the same chemical compound responsible for corn flour: 2-aminoacetophenone (read paper here). This compound is present in tortillas and many other foods. Interestingly, a primary portion of a free-tailed bat’s diet in the wild is the corn-borer moth. Another interesting note is that during release and right before take off, male Brazilian free-tailed bats emit a scent that smells like a bouquet of flowers.
HOARY BATS AND RED BATS
Hoary bats and red bats are both solitary species that roost in trees. Their unique fur coloring helps to camouflage them and keep them safe by making them appear as pine cones, dried leaves or even tree bark. These insect-eating bats are among the most beautiful in the US but have the unfortunate (albeit very faint) odor of fish combined with urine.
In my opinion big-eared pallid bats are the true fairies of the wood. They are exquisite little beings with endearing faces, yet these gentle bats are known for their ability to eat scorpions and centipedes while remaining oblivious to the stings. They don’t have much of an odor unless they are under stress. When that happens they smell very much like a skunk.
Evening bats resemble miniature 2″ grizzly bears. They eat cucumber beetles, Japanese beetles, carabidae beetles, June bugs, flying ants, spittle bugs, stinkbugs, and small moths, and they smell like burnt oranges.
AFRICAN FRUIT BATS
Sometimes called straw-colored fruit bats, these cat-sized bats eat dates, baobab flowers, mangoes, pawpaws, avocados, figs, passion fruit and more, helping to spread the seeds of these plants over thousands of miles in Africa. African fruit bats don’t have much of an odor unless they are stressed. When that happens they smell like licorice combined with road tar.
EGYPTIAN FRUIT BATS
These squirrel-sized bats eat a variety of exotic fruits from tropical shrubs and trees in the wild. Wild dates and figs are among their favorite foods but they also enjoy plant nectar. These bats have the pleasant aroma of warm fruit jam.
JAMAICAN FRUIT BATS
These hamster-sized bats eat fragrant fruits like figs, various leaves, flowers, pollen, nectar and even nuts in the wild. They also help to spread the seeds of the allspice tree which brings in millions of dollars a year to Jamaica’s economy. These bats don’t have much of a smell individually but when snuggled together they emit a fragrance comparable to perfumed soap.
1. Prison or Paradise
Bats and other wild animals do not want to be taken into captivity. Regardless of why a bat is in your care, you are its captor. You control everything about a caged bat’s life, whether it has fresh water, nutritious and tasty food, enrichment, the company of its kind, and medication for ailments and pain. A barren enclosure is a prison, it leaves a caged bat nothing to look forward to and nothing to occupy its intelligent mind. As a captor, it is YOUR responsibility to create paradise for a bat that you have chosen to cage. Silk foliage, roosting pouches and fleece cloths, foam rocks and rubber netting, bark, proper floor padding and fresh food and water daily are critical items that brighten a bat’s life. Enrichment also eases stress and promotes healing, resulting in a faster release time.
2. Respect vs Nurturing
Most people get involved in wildlife rehabilitation not just for the good it does for the animal but also the good it does for oneself. Providing nurture and watching an animal thrive under your care is a wonderful feeling, however, that feeling should never overpower the proper respect an animal deserves. Every captive bat deserves a peaceful existence, free from stress of being over-handled or over-bothered by constant intrusions. Provide just what they need to be happy and not what YOU need for a warm-fuzzy.
3. Over-Confidence Kills
A good wildlife rehabilitator always second-guesses his or her self and usually blames themselves over the loss of an animal. Every mistake or loss needs to be an opportunity to learn so that bat did not die in vain. Ask yourself what could have been done differently, or what did you miss? If there was nothing that could have been done, what knowledge did you gain that can be used to help save the next bat? Learning from mistakes will make you a better rehabber. Being overly confident ruins your ability to learn from your mistakes and will cause more bats to die in your care.
At most animal sanctuaries, Christmas day is just like any other. Resident animals must be cared for and rescues still take place. That’s no exception at Bat World Sanctuary. The bats don’t know it’s Christmas, of course, they only know they getting extra treats, toys and decorations added to their enclosure – decorations they haven’t seen since this time last year.
A staff of two take care of the bats on Christmas day, myself (Amanda) and Assistant Director, Terri. The other staff members are off enjoying time with their families. Between the two of us we manage to get everything done in about four hours so we still have plenty of family time as well. While we work we spend a lot of time having fun, always joking that we could never take December 25th off because “The bats still poop on Christmas day!”
We also talk about how grateful we are to our supporters, because without them we wouldn’t have the means to take care of the bats on Christmas or any other day of the year. We are also grateful for the many shoppers who visited batworldstore.org and bought educational gifts that spread the good word about bats while bringing in extra funds to help our rescue efforts.
This year was even more exceptional because our supporters contributed enough on North Texas Giving Day to provide food for the bats for an entire year, ensuring that next year, the bats can still poop on Christmas day.
And for that we are eternally grateful.
On December the 9th we had an odd delivery of two containers covered in cloths found in our delivery hall after we came back from a supply run. The containers held 19 non-releasable bats of various ages including 7 free-tails, 3 big browns, 8 pallids and 1 Myotis bat. There was a note attached to one container which read “Please take care of them.”
All the bats except one had injuries that had long since healed. One bat, a female free-tail, had a serious injury that resulted in the loss of her wing. She was already in the process of healing but we started her onpain medications and antibiotics to speed her healing. All of the bats had bright eyes and were a good weight so it was obvious that someone had been taking good care of them for quite a while.
The bats were evaluated and over the next few days we discovered that most of them were self-feeding. Over the next week, all but the injured free-tail were slowly introduced into the existing non-releasable bat colony at Bat World. The injured female (that we call Melody) was placed into an incubator in our clinic with another free-tailed bat suffering with frost bite. At this writing little Melody has since learned to eat from a dish so both she and little “Frosty” will be moved into the flight enclosure very soon.
The remaining bats gradually settled in, making friends with their new free-tail and big brown roost mates. Some of the bats moved into the simulated cave provided for the handicapped bats while the pallid bats chose to move into another simulated cave at at the opposite end of the flight enclosure. At this writing all of the bats are doing extremely well and are adapting to their new life at Bat World Sanctuary.
We hope the person who left these bats with us is reading this. If you are, please rest assured that we will take good care of them and they are welcome to stay with us for life. We don’t know your circumstances but we wish you the best, and we thank you for saving these bats from whatever tragedies they once faced.
During the summer months, hundreds of Brazilian free-tailed bat mothers set up nursery colonies in the attics of vacant buildings in a dilapidated part of a nearby town. Occasionally, a baby bat will become orphaned from the mother not returning to the roost for various reasons including being injured in a storm or becoming the victim of a predator such as an owl, hawk or human. Orphaned bats go in search of mom and often end up grounded on the outside of the buildings, so Bat World volunteers walk the area early every summer morning to look for pups that can be saved.
“Little Ernie” survived despite tremendous odds being stacked against him. He was stuck inside a old, vacant building for at least two days before being accidentally spotted through a glass door on July 14, 2016 by volunteer Moriah. Luckily we were able to find the building owner (Ernie B.) and we called him immediately. Ernie B. said he would go check and see if the bat was still there and call us back. A short while later he returned our call and said the little bat was already dead.
Later that night we went to check the area again and decided to recheck the building, just in case. We immediately spotted the same little bat behind the glass door, very much alive and struggling to find a way out. He was covered in dust and laying on the floor with a large amount of debris clinging to his little feet, which he dragged behind him as he feebly crawled across the floor. It was easy to tell by the way that he was moving that he was very weak from the weight of the debris as well as a lack of food and water. Periodically he would stop and rest, which made him look deceased.
We called Ernie B. again and thankfully he was available to come and open the door so we so we could rescue Little Ernie.
Little Ernie’s strong will and determined personality helped him survive the odds that were stacked against him. But as it turned out, Little Ernie was born with deformed fingertips which will prevent him from ever flying free, so being stuck behind those glass doors at the right time were the best odds he could have hoped for.
Ernie will never again have to beat the odds. He will be cared for at Bat World Sanctuary for the rest of his life, where the odds are always stacked in his favor.
On September 22, 2016 (North Texas Giving Day) you were invited to watch us LIVE from 8:00 am until 11am-noon CST as we went through our daily routine at Bat World Sanctuary, cleaning enclosures, hand-feeding disabled bats and preparing bat food. 100% of all the money we raised on that day was deposited into our Food Account in order to provide food for the bats we care for and rescue next year. We needed to raise at least $35,000 to cover the cost of both food and medicine for 2017. Click here to view the results from Giving Day! Giving Day donations, as well as the donations we received through paypal and other means, totaled an astounding 40,515!!!
Here is a summary of what your donations have furnished for the bats:
$40 = 1 box apples (364 needed annually) or 1 box sweet potatoes (104 annually)
$50 = 1 box of pears (104 needed annually)
$250 = 40,000 meal worms (24 needed annually)
$500 = 5 days of food for both the fruit and insect eating bats
$1,000 = 10 days of food and medication for the sanctuary bats & those we rescue
$3,000 = 30 days of food and medication for the sanctuary bats & those we rescue
PLEASE ENJOY THIS FOOTAGE (including bloopers!) MADE FROM OUR LIVE CAMS ON 9/22/16.
From the GFAS website:
Amanda Lollar of GFAS-accredited Bat World Sanctuary is the eighth recipient of the Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence given annually by Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
Washington DC – The 2016 Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence recipient was announced by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). This year Amanda Lollar of GFAS-accredited Bat World Sanctuary was singled out for her leadership in supporting the welfare of bats as a caregiver, educator and advocate.
The Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence is given annually to a sanctuary or individual who embodies and puts into practice the GFAS philosophy of vision, dedication and excellence in animal care. It memorializes Carole Noon, founder of Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Florida, the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary.
“For decades, Amanda has been a tireless champion for this often misunderstood, maligned and underserved group of animals,” says Kellie Heckman, GFAS executive director. “She is the expert in captive bat care and management and an inspiration to all for her passion and dedication. We are excited and honored to provide her with the recognition she deserves.”
Amanda Lollar founded Bat World Sanctuary in Weatherford, TX in 1994, after rehabilitating her first injured bat in 1988. Amanda has since volunteered her time seven days a week, 365 days per year, 12 to 16 hours per day. The Sanctuary currently cares for over 200 permanent residents. Over the past two decades, Amanda has personally saved the lives of thousands of bats, including over 2,000 starving and injured orphaned bats which were hand-raised and released back to the wild.
Lollar shared her thoughts about the achievement, saying, “Bats are miraculous creatures that deserve our protection. They are highly intelligent, have remarkable language skills, and form deep social connections. It has been my life’s work and my greatest joy to defend and support the species. I thank GFAS for this monumental recognition and for all they do to protect the animals of the world by making certain Dr. Noon’s passion and compassion lives on.”
“Amanda has trained over 400 zoologists, veterinarians, and other animal care professionals from every bat-inhabited continent in the world. It is not an exaggeration to say that Amanda has saved hundreds of thousands of bats across the globe due to her hands-on ability and her willingness to share her knowledge. We are so very grateful to GFAS for bestowing this much-deserved award upon Amanda, who makes us proud each and every day,” elaborates Dottie Hyatt, Vice President of Bat World Sanctuary.
An award will be presented to Ms. Lollar in person at a ceremony in the fall at Bat World Sanctuary.
About Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries:
Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the sole purpose of strengthening and supporting the work of animal sanctuaries/rescues worldwide. The goal of GFAS in working with and assisting sanctuaries/rescues is to ensure they are supported, honored, recognized and rewarded for meeting important criteria in providing care to the animals in residence. GFAS was founded in 2007 by animal protection leaders from a number of different organizations in response to virtually unchecked and often hidden exploitation of animals for human entertainment and financial profit. The GFAS Board of Directors guides the organization’s work in a collaborative manner. They represent top leadership from Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and American Anti-Vivisection Society. For more information, visit: www.sanctuaryfederation.org.
We’ve been very busy rescuing orphaned and injured bats this summer. Included below are videos of Ernie, a young free-tailed bat rescued after being trapped inside a vacant building for at least two days; Mama Bear,, who suffered blunt force trauma; Munchkinface, who suffered a “lucky” fall; Gigi, a beautiful Seminole bat; and a free-tailed juvie who likely walked a mile on hot pavement before being rescued.
Mr. Impley, a Jamaican fruit bat (Artibeus jamaicensis) was retired to Bat World with over a dozen more of his kind in 1994. The bats were involved in DNA research. The project involved taking notches from the ears as well as toe samples from the bats.
Despite this, Impley remained trusting of humans and looked forward to his daily honeydew treats at Bat World Sanctuary. During the last year of his life Impley developed arthritis which left him unable to groom so he was gently brushed every morning by his caregivers. Mr. Impley passed away on June 27, 2016, leaving an empty spot in the hearts of everyone at Bat World Sanctuary.