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Gimlet

Late one evening in March of 2011, we received an email concerning a bat found in an open garage. It was right after a heavy windstorm involving gale force winds that a man discovered the bat among debris blown in to his garage. Using a glove, he was able to get the bat into a glass jar. He then found Bat World online and sent us an email, along with the photo below, asking for our help.

Gimlet in small jar
Gimlet, barely able to fit inside the jar that encased him. Click to enlarge.

We determined the bat was a big free-tail (Nyctinomops macrotis), based on the size of the bat compared to the jar. Most disconcerting, however, was the unnatural position of the frightened bat, indicating he was too large to fit inside the jar. While his rescuer had the best of intentions in helping the bat, it is important to note that a jar is a highly inappropriate container for a bat, even temporarily. Glass allows too much light for the comfort of these animals who prefer dark seclusion, and the slick surface offers nothing for the bat to grip in order to comfortably hang upside-down. Additionally, bats use echolocation to orient themselves to their surroundings and these vocalizations only bounce around inside a jar, which can alarm a bat even further.

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 “Gimlet” to Bat World Sanctuary. Upon arrival at Bat World, Gimlet was thoroughly examined and although he was thin and dehydrated, he was in fairly good condition.

Big free-tailed bats are only known to colonize a few select places in Texas, so we determined that the extreme high winds we had been experiencing likely blew Gimlet off course. Little is known about his species other than they like to roost within crevices and cracks in high canyon walls. Unfortunately there are no known big free-tail bat roosts in north-central Texas (where Bat World is located) so we could not release him right away.

In July of 2013, with the help of a bat biologist and friend, Gimlet was finally reunited with his kind in Big Bend National Park in south Texas, where these bats thrive. He was released at nightfall and joined other big free-tailed bats already out foraging in the protected park.

His favorite food in captivity was giant meal worms, as evidenced in the video below. We were both honored and happy to care for Gimlet until he could once again return his rightful place in the wild, soaring high above the canyons with his kind.

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Dusty

Thank you to the lovely ladies who drove this little dusty bat to us. She had been stuck in a warehouse for three days, was extremely emaciated and dehydrated, and would not have lasted another day. Within 15 minutes of receiving electrolytes and hydrolyzed protein she began to perk up, and was able to be fed an hour later. She is doing great and will be released in a couple of days! Click photo to enlarge.

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The Sunday 16

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.

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Tinkerbelle

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.

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Boo-2

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.

Boo2 (looking at the camera) with Peekaboo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boo2 showing off his sweet smile.
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Sarah

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.

Steve Fishman, President
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
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Injured Baby

In the summer of 2011, a one-week old free-tailed pup was admitted with what appeared to be a severe bite wound to the forearm. Unfortunately, adult males sometimes bite baby bats who wander into their territory, and that appeared to be the case here. The wound was severely infected and would have cause a painful death to the pup in the wild. We treated the pup with antibiotics, pain medication and applied sterile Manuka honey to the wing twice daily. Within 10 days the wing was vastly improved. The pup continued to do well over the next 10 weeks. When full grown, and after receiving flight training, the pup was released back into the original colony where it was rescued.

Photos below were taken while the pup was nursing its milk formula from foam eye-shadow applicators which were removed from he wand. Click the photo to enlarge.

Click to enlarge
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Mr. Impley

Mr. Impley is a Jamaican fruit bat who was retired to us in 1994 along with 14 of his roostmates. The bats were involved in DNA research, and samples of their ears and toes were removed using clippers. Needless to say, most of these bats were very frightened of people when they arrived. One bat, however, displayed a rather impish personality early on, so was affectionately dubbed “Mr. Imply” within a few days of his arrival.

 

A few of the bats who were retired to Bat World after being used in research. Click to enlarge.

Mr. Imply went into research as an adult so his exact age is unknown. In his younger years, he used to fly to caregivers to receive a special treat of melon, but as he has aged so did his desire to fly, so his twice-daily treats are now hand-delivered by his human caretakers while he hangs in a basket-roost that he shares with two elderly female bats of his same species. To date he is one of the oldest Jamaican fruit bats in captivity at 18 years and counting.

 

 

Mr. Impley holding a piece of his favorite treat, honey due melon. Photo taken when Imply was approximately 17 years old.  Click to enlarge.

 

 

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Orphans of 2010

We rescue from 100 to 200 orphaned insectivorous bats every summer. The babies below represent a few of these. the free-tailed orphans (immediately below) were found starving at our wild sanctuary for Brazilian free-tailed bats. The mothers may have been attacked by a local owl who was seen lurking in the area as the bats emerged to hunt for insects every night. The mothers of the red bat orphans (bottom photo) were likely attacked by a blue jay or crow, which is a common occurrence for tree bats raising young during the summer months. Between eight to ten weeks later these pups were full grown, and after receiving flight exercise, they were released back to the wild. Click the photos to enlarge.

Free-tailed orphans of 2010 who were rescued from starvation. These babies were dehydrated and covered in mites.
All cleaned up and nursing warm milk from foam tips. Within a few days, the babies look much better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red bat orphans, a tree-roosting species. Red bats are one of the few species who have more than one baby per year. Some red bat mothers have up to 5 pups at a time.

 

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Roadie

Roadie was first spotted a at our wild sanctuary in July of 2005, high on the rafters, during baby season. He appeared to be about one week old. One tiny wing was severely damaged, perhaps during birth. It had broken and then healed into a crooked position leaving his delicate fingers frozen in place like a fan that splayed from one side of his body. He would never be able to fly and once he was weaned he would not survive. Worse, he was forced to drag his splayed fingers beside him rather than tuck them into a normal position under his body. They could easily become caught between the rocks as he crawled around. His only chance of survival was captivity. We tried desperately to get hold of him but he was just out of our grasp. For three weeks we searched for him but he had apparently disappeared into the recesses of the large stone walls of the wild sanctuary. Then we spotted him once more. He was almost full grown. Again, he ducked out of our reach and our attempts to rescue him failed. His time was running out. Soon his mother would wean him. Without being able to fly and catch insects he would slowly starve. Two more weeks passed and we had no choice but to give him up for dead.

Roadie enjoys a mealworm
Roadie enjoying a meal worm after he was well enough to eat. Click to enlarge.

About a week later a knock came at the back door of Bat World. A merchant had found a bat in the parking lot of their building; crawling slowly across the hot Texas pavement. As we looked into the paper cup containing the small bat we were amazed to see the unmistakable fanned wing of the little bat we had tried so anxiously to rescue from the rafters. He had been found two blocks from the wild sanctuary. Unable to fly he crawled, searching for refuge, needing to be helped. He had made his way over blistering, hot pavement and across a three-lane highway—braving traffic, stray cats, raccoons and rats. The merchant thought the little bat was dying and had brought him to Bat World so we could end his suffering. He was indeed dying. He was in respiratory distress, his little legs swollen, his disabled wing burned and necrotic from the hot pavement. With each breath came a gasp as his dehydrated body struggled for air. But he did not give up. He blinked his beautiful little eyes as the medication and fluids took hold and eased his labored breathing.

The following day he was able to lift his head and accept food (the photo on the right shows him enjoying a mealworm). Unfortunately, his wing had to be amputated to save his life. Roadie persevered, however, and soon learned to climb and walk across surfaces just as well as an uninjured bat.

This intelligent little creature knew what he required was not to be found at the wild sanctuary. He set out on his journey to find what he needed, never losing hope. Roadie is a exceptional example of why we should never give up, despite the odds.

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