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Gizmo

Gizmo is an Egyptian fruit bat who was born into the cruel, exotic pet trade where fruit bats -that have a lifespan of 25 years- rarely live over a year when kept as pets. Gizmo’s mother was purchased while she was pregnant, and she had Gizmo a short while later. A few months after Gizmo was born his mother passed away, leaving him alone and living in a small wire bird cage in his captor’s living room, and there he languished for the next year, completely alone, and barely able stretch his wings.

Lucky for Gizmo, his captor grew tired of taking care of him and wanted to unload him to recoup his money, so he contacted a friend, Gregg Maston, to see if he wanted to purchase Gizmo. Gregg went to the internet to research how to take care of fruit bats and found our page on why bats should never be kept as pets. It then became Gregg’s mission to get Gizmo out of the pet trade and to bat World Sanctuary instead.

Gregg contacted us and we were overjoyed with his decision and to be able to give Gizmo the life he so deserved. Gregg purchased Gizmo and Bat World volunteer, Erica, made the 8 hour round-trip to Austin, Texas to bring Gizmo to his forever home at Bat World Sanctuary.

Because Gizmo was an unneutered male, he had to be confined to our holding enclosure until he could be neutered. We made sure, however, that he could see and hear his new family, who were located just a few feet from his enclosure. We also made sure that Gizmo was not alone on his first night. We placed Pogo, and elderly male Egyptian fruit bat, in the holding enclosure with Gizmo. The bats were placed into a bat hut together. Gizmo had not seen another bad in over a year. When Gizmo saw Pogo he immediately buried his nose into Pogo’s fur, breathing in the scent of a familiar being for almost a full minute. The two happily snuggled together until the following morning when Gizmo was neutered.

After Gizmo was neutered, he was allowed to join his new forever family. His ear was marked green with a non-toxic temporary paint so we could keep an eye on him as he settled in and healed.

When Gizmo was introduced to his new home, the resident Egyptian fruit bats immediately began sniffing Gizmo all over in order to be become familiar with the newcomer. After an hour Gizmo finally found his place… completely surrounded by his new family.

Gizmo is one of hundreds of bats we have rescued from the cruel, exotic pet trade, zoos and research. Gizmo’s bright future is only made possible through supporters like you. Without you, Gizmo would have had no place to turn. Thank you for helping us give Gizmo the happy future he so deserves.


A special Thank you to Gregg Maston for saving Gizmo’s life.


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Benger the Avenger

At first he did not look like a vision of Beauty but that was because he had been through so much.

Benger after he was hydrated and feeling better

Benger was found in July of 2017 as an orphan. He was almost two miles from the nearest nursery colony. He was about four weeks old and too large to have been carried by another bat in flight, so we have no idea how he got to the porch of the lady who called us. In order to get where he was found he traveled through feral cats, raccoons and skunks, fire ants, traffic and burning hot pavement. He finally ended up on a porch where he was spotted, and we were called right away.

For the first few days we honestly didn’t think Benger would survive. He was critically dehydrated, so much so that it took 5mls of fluids –more than the amount of blood contained in his tiny body- to get him up to speed.

He was also skin and bones and vomited at almost every meal, losing all the formula and precious calories his body so desperately needed. Then burns started appearing on his toes and tail membrane, likely from the scalding hot pavement he traveled across. He lost his tail to burns and eventually lost on of his thumbs and a few of his toes.

It took Benger two months to completely heal. Throughout it all, he was such a hero. Despite the pain he endured, he never lost the will to survive. He isn’t releasable because of his injuries so we will take care of him the rest of his life (15 to 20 years).

His name is a combination of Roger (don’t ask) and Benjamin Button, because he looked like a shriveled old man when he arrived. We tacked on “Avenger” because to us he is nothing short of a tiny superhero.

To celebrate his survival, Bat World volunteer Moriah Champagne made Benger a tiny cape. His cape hangs on display beside the staff lockers at Bat World Sanctuary.

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Delilah

Delilah is a hoary bat what was found by a kind person in the spring of 2017. She spotted Delilah on the ground and immediately called Bat World Sanctuary for help. When Delilah arrived to us for care, it was discovered that two of her wing fingers were broken, likely from a strong storm that had passed through the area the a few nights previously.

Delilah was very thin and dehydrated—it was apparent that she had not been able to fly and forage for insects in at least two days. After we provided Delilah with an emergency injection of fluids we gave her pain medication and set to work on her broken fingers, which were bloody and caked with dirt. During her treatment, Delilah looked at us while gently licking her injured fingers as if to say, “Thank you for helping me.”

Over the next few weeks Delilah’s fingers healed. While she was healing she was also learning to eat mealworms from a dish, something she truly looked forward to twice a day. Delilah would actually lick her lips in anticipation when hearing the worms being prepared for her twice daily feedings. Injured hoary bats are very well in an enriched captive environment. They accept the fate of their injuries and adjust.  Because Delilah can no longer fly, she has a “plush” tree stump, artificial leaves and other soft enrichment items to brighten her life.

Delilah has settled in nicely to her captive life and still eagerly looks forward to her dishes being placed below the leaves and foam rock where she hangs in comfort in her enclosure. After her meal arrives, she crawls down to where her small dishes have been placed and she devours large, juicy meal worms at her own leisure. After she finishes eating she grooms her gorgeous fur and washes her face, then climbs back to her roost and immediately goes to sleep until her growling tummy calls her to move again.

Delilah deserves all of the care, comfort and nourishing food we can give her, and we always have plenty to share.

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Orphaned Free-tails

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.

An orphaned animal is at the greatest disadvantage because it has lost his or her natural mother, and a mother’s bat’s milk is very special, just as the baby to whom it gives life. Bat World Sanctuary worked for over two years with a nutritional scientist to developed a milk formula recipe that replaces free-tailed bat mother’s milk.

Free-tailed orphans are not physically able to lap milk, their tiny faces are only designed to nurse. There is no nurser small enough to accommodate their tiny mouths, however, so we use foam tips made from eye-shadow applicators. The foam is removed from the wand and cut into a shape that the pup will accept. Warm milk formula is dispenses, a drop at a time, onto the tip as the pup nurses. Because free-tail pups enjoy nursing in this fashion so much, it allows to form “assembly lines” and feed several bat pups at once.

Free-tailed bats are highly intelligent, using over 25 vocalizations to communicate. The orphans are very smart at birth and quickly realize that they are being helped. The vocalize using soft chittering and squeaks to communicate while they snuggle and play with one another.

Aside from food, we provide the love and attention their mother’s would have showered on them.  Unlike other animals, bats do not imprint so we can and do become their substitute mothers.  We nurture them and raise them.  We give them flight training and teach them to forage and when they are ready they fly free as nature intended.  If an orphan is born with an abnormality or a medical condition that prevents them from being released, we give them lifetime sanctuary with us, where they live in a simulated cave with others of their kind. The cave sits inside a large flight enclosure which enables bats with limited flight to enjoy themselves on a nightly basis.

We are able to provide all they need  because we do not do it alone.  Our supporters give us the means to save the orphans—their formula, their toys, bedding and the very incubators that are initially used keep them alive.  We could not save these tiny, important lives without your support.

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Orphaned Red Bats

Red bats roost in trees and they have beautiful fur the color of autumn leaves.  Unlike other bat species, red bats typically give birth to as many as four or five  babies.  The babies are always born during the summer months. Unfortunately, because red bats roost in trees, they are prone to being attacked by birds such as blue jays and crows. They  may also become victims of tree-trimming, cats and snakes.

When attacked, a mother red bat tries to gather up all of her babies at one time in order to fly them to safety.  The combined weight of the babies is too heavy to allow the mother to fly very well, so they often become grounded. Mother red bats almost always stay with their young instead of flying to safety for themselves, using their bodies to shield their babies from danger. Unfortunately, these mothers often succumb to heat or are attacked by predators and do not survive.

Each summer Bat World cares for up to 50 red bat orphans. Red bat orphans are among the more delicate species to hand raise. The tiny orphans are able to drink formula from an eye dropper.

A specialized milk formula is used to feed baby bats. A glass medicine dropper is used to feed the babies. A small drop of warm milk is placed onto the pup’s lips to encourage it to lap.  After it begins to lap, warm formula is dispensed, a drop at a time, until the pup’s tummy is rounded.  It is extremely important to keep red bat pups clean during the feeding process as dried milk on their fur can easily result in an infection.   The pups are checked throughout the day and they are fed again as soon as their tummies become flat. Dehydration must also be treated or the pups will not survive.

After the pups have grown adult teeth they are introduced to live mealworms, which they soon grow to love.  Each bat will eat up to 30 mealworms twice a day.  At six to eight weeks of age they begin flapping their wings, readying themselves to fly.  At that time they are moved into a large flight enclosure where they hone their flight skills.  This process can take up to four more weeks.  During this time the pups are checked twice a day and offered mealworms.  Once the pups exhibit the survival skills necessary to live on their own they are released back into the wild.

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Sponsor Ruffles

The containers in which the bats arrived on December 9th, 2016.

On December the 9th we had an odd delivery of two containers (photo right) covered in cloths and 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 pallid bats and 1 Myotis bat. There was a note attached to one container that read “Please take care of them.”

All the bats except one had injuries that had long since healed, including Ruffles, who’s ears appeared to be damaged from frostbite. The bats also 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.

One of Ruffles’ roost mates (with normal ears) sitting on a simulated rock ledge, enjoying the view.

The 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 the opposite end of the flight area.


Little Ruffles stood out from the group of pallid bats from the very beginning, not only because of his ears, but also from his incredibly sweet personality. His wings have a slight curvature to them, indicating that he may have been rescued as an orphan and developed metabolic bone disease from lack of calcium. The condition rendered him nonreleasable as his flight abilities are severely compromised.

While we have no idea what Ruffles’ life story was or how he came to have such damaged ears, we do know that he is very happy with his life with us. Any condition he may develop in the future will be addressed right away, and he will have the best care we can possibly give him for the rest of his sweet little life.

Footage of the pallid bat cam where Ruffles shares his home with his rootmates.

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Little Ernie

ernie-cuteDuring 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.

ernie-tipLittle 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.

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Mildred

Before Mildred came to us she’d accomplished quite a lot on her own. While she called the decades-old bat colony in the heart of downtown Mineral Wells, TX home, each winter this tiny, inch-long bat would fly out one night with the rest of her colony and head for Central America to escape the cold. Each spring she would return to reform their community, raise her pup and keep people who didn’t even know she existed free of insect pests and free to enjoy the night in peace, as she did. As the years took their toll, the migrations felt longer, gravity felt stronger and the heavy demands of motherhood grew heavier. Sometime over the years Mildred lost the tip of her tail, but for well over a decade she persevered, until one day the rigors of it all became too much for her and she found herself grounded.

One thing saved her: she finally succumbed in her Texas home, and that home is a wild sanctuary under the care of Bat World. A volunteer found her starving and dehydrated, still pressing onward as best she could to crawl toward some kind of safety. She was rescued and she quickly recovered to the point where she would ordinarily be returned to the wild.

Mildred, safe and sound for the rest of her life

There were two problems, however.  It was immediately clear that she loved being at Bat World Sanctuary. She took to her caretakers very quickly, and learned to feed herself from the meal worm dishes which is very unusual for a bat of her age. After just a few days it was clear that she liked them very much as she grew rounder and rounder.

It was also clear that the old age that grounded her would only do so again if she were to be released. Time had worn her teeth down so that she’d have had trouble grabbing insects from the air and holding onto them. It had likely made feeding difficult for her for some time and was almost certainly the problem that had caused her to almost starve.  Having worked so hard for so long she deserved an easy retirement, and so she was given one. Mildred will live out her life at Bat World with many other old friends rescued from that same colony, where flying is simply for the joy of it, and plentiful food will never be out of her reach.

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Boo2

Boo2 showing off his sweet, goofy smile.

Boo2 is an Egyptian fruit bat who was born at Bat World Sanctuary after his mother and seven other bats were rescued by Bat World from the now closed Little River Zoo. They came from a horrible situation.

An individual who was hired to “liquidate” the zoo’s animals called us about placing the remaining 8 bats. Sadly, the others had been sold to the cruel exotic pet trade. This individual originally planned to keep the remaining 8 bats and breed them, selling the “stock.” Thankfully, we talked her out of it, and all eight bats made it safely to Bat World Sanctuary in Sept of 2011. Boo2’s mother was pregnant when she arrived and Boo2 was born a few months later.

Boo2 became best buddies with Peekaboo, an Egyptian fruit bat who was rescued from similar conditions in 2009. It was this friendship that earned him the name Boo2. Peekaboo and Boo2 love to spend time with each other and are never seen far apart.

Boo2 (looking at the camera) with Peekaboo.
Boo2 (looking at the camera) with Peekaboo.
Boo2 inserting himself in front of a morning keeper in order to get another melon treat. An empty fruit kabob is hanging beside Boo2.

Boo2 has so much personality that we have nicknamed him the “cage clown.” He’s never seen without an endearing, goofy grin on his face. Twice daily, keepers conduct visual exams of the bats under the guise of doling out melon treats to any bat who will take one. Boo2 positions himself in front of the keeper in any way possible in order to receive treat after treat.

We are so grateful to have rescued Boo2 from the dire conditions to which he would have been born, and a situation from which he most likely would have perished. Thank you to all who adopt and support Boo2 so that he and his kind can live a protected, happy and enriched life at Bat World Sanctuary.


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Tinkerbell

Tinkerbell at intake, nursing from a foam tip

Tinkerbell, a Jamaican fruit bat, is a sweet natured and endearingly odd little bat. To know her, you’d never think that her coming into the world had been so heartbreakingly grim.

Her mother was one of the many unfortunate bats that had become ensnared in the exotic pet trade, where bats inevitably live short lives of loneliness and terror. Like so many others in her predicament, Tinkerbell’s mother languished in a captivity wholly unsuited for bats and eventually died giving birth to her daughter. When Tinkerbell arrived at Bat World Sanctuary, she was, as is sadly common for bat pups whose mothers have died in childbirth, still clinging to her mother’s body.

Tinkerbell drinking her milk

Thankfully, things took a turn for the better; her owner, likely looking for ways to care for a newborn bat, came across Bat World’s Facebook page and learned how hard a pet’s life is for bats. It was too late for Tinkerbell’s mother, but not Tinkerbell herself, and the owner delivered the newborn to Bat World Sanctuary and asked us to keep spreading the word about keeping bats as pets. Were it not for her owner’s kind heart and willingness to admit she’d been wrong, Tinkerbell likely wouldn’t have made it either.

Tinkerbell at two months old

Tinkerbell was hand-raised at Bat World and has grown into a healthy and slightly eccentric adulthood. For whatever reason, be it her traumatic entry into the world or simply her odd little personality, she insists on roosting and eating by herself in the “bat hut” that serves as the halfway house for new arrivals. The bat hut is meant as temporary security for orphaned bats who are learning to adapt to the flight cage, but Tinkerbell has made it her permanent home. It’s not that Tinkerbell fears the other bats; she plays and flies alongside them nightly, and even enjoys visitors that pass through her bat hut. Tinkerbell simply values her solitude.

Tinkerbell in her bat hut, eating a piece of honeydew melon

Since deciding to call the bat hut her permanent home, Tinkerbell now serves as a welcoming committee to newly arriving orphaned bats. She allows the youngsters to roost and cuddle with her inside the bat hut, and in doing so eases their transition to hubbub of the flight cage.

In the wild, Tinkerbell’s solitary nature would deny her the protection of numbers and could put her in danger, but here at Bat World she has a place all her own. And if she wants company, there are over a hundred of her best friends no more than a wing flap away. We may not know why she lacks some of the social impulses that are so strong within other bats, but one thing’s for sure, her days of suffering and loss are over.

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