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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
March 1991 – May 2011
She spent the first ten years of her life in a New York apartment, in a dirty, bare, wooden-frame cage with a chicken wire ceiling. The young bat shared this cage with her only roostmate, her mother. The cage held no enrichment, no place to hide from the daylight, and no- where to sleep comfortably. Then, as fate would have it, the person who kept the mother and daughter bats in these conditions died, and their lives finally changed.
In January of 2000, Director of Mercer County Wildlife Center, in Titusville, NJ received the call about the bats after wildlife officials found numerous other exotic pets in the house of the man who had passed away. Their conditions improved at the center, and they were cared for by a staff of volunteers. Then, in a tragic turn of events, a rat made its way into the center one night and chewed into the cage that the mother and daughter bats shared. The rat attacked and subsequently devoured the mother bat, sparing the daughter.
The daughter was then transferred into a bird cage for safety, and moved to a different building. Because she now had no roostmate, the staff provided her with a stuffed StellaLuna bat doll with which she cuddled. She was used for public presentations for the next year. Then, in May of 2006 she injured and broke her leg while in the bird cage. After that, her health began to rapidly deteriorate.
In November of 2006, the daughter bat -now 16 years old- arrived to us lying in a box padded with
baby blankets. When the lid opened she looked up in fright with watery, old eyes that spoke of her past horrors. Her tiny body had a yellowish tint, indicating poor nutrition and possibly the beginning stages of liver disease. Her fur was sparse and patchy, and the foot of the previously broken leg pointed backwards in the direction it had healed. The knee in the opposite leg appeared to be swollen with arthritis, perhaps from the stress of only having one good leg with which to hang. The trip had taken its toll on her frail body, and at first we feared she might not survive.
But this tiny girl had fortitude; she fought her way back with all her might. We decided to call her Stella, both for the doll that helped her through her lonely period, and because of the popular book StellaLuna, a story about a mother and daughter fruit bat who become separated.
Unable to hang for the first few days, we placed Stella in a padded pouch that rested inside a small mesh enclosure until she was well enough to join the other bats in the flight cage (top photo). We started her on liver medication, and her coloring, along with her energy, vastly improved. Arthritis medicine helped her painful, swollen knee, and before long her eyes were clear and bright, and she could once again hang upside-down. As Stella’s health progressed, she was slowly moved into the flight cage, gradually spending more and more time until she was strong enough to remain there throughout the night. We created custom ‘Stella-sized’ hammocks in select locations in the flight cage, so she could rest her diminutive body and crippled legs during the process.
Within months, Stella was bright-eyed, inquisitive and full of life. She chose favorite toy as well, a miniature bird mirror with curly-cues around the frame.
During Stella’s final years, we tried very hard to erase her bad memories as well as the horrific sorrow she must have endured during the tragic loss of her mother. We filled her nights with happiness, good health and plentiful foods, brightly colored toys, and dozens of warm and cuddly bat friends.
This courageous little bat was with us nearly five years, having survived a bleak existence in a stark, wire cage with her mother. When she arrived, her lack of fur, dull eyes and stunted size confirmed she had endured more than any creature should have. Stella was a miniature delight who passed away peacefully in her sleep as she rested in the hammock she loved so much, amongst the comfort of her adopted family.
Rest in Peace precious Stella, your sweet soul will be forever missed.
Mekki is a female hoary bat that arrived injured during the winter of 2005. She was found hibernating amongst a group of dead trees, along a forest line in central Texas, by Mike Tyler and his daughter Melissa. Quite often dead or dying trees are cut down in Texas during the winter months and the timber is used to fuel fireplaces. Given the fact that trees are oftentimes brought down with chainsaws, Mekki’s fate could have been much worse. Mr. Tyler explained to us that he had no idea that some bats hibernate in trees. During the process of cutting down the tree the family dog had started barking and refused to stop, so he put down his chainsaw to investigate. It was then that Melissa, age 10, saw Mekki climbing up along the tree trunk dragging an injured wing.
Melissa had recently learned about bats in science class at her school. During her studies she had visited the Bat World website and learned what to do if you find a bats. She instructed her father to use a glove to rescue the bat because it might bite out of fear. He secured Mekki within the folds of an old t-shirt and placed her inside a box, and they drove home to call Bat World. A few hours later they arrived at our back door. Mekki was found to have open fractures to three fingers but otherwise she was in fine shape (and very lucky!). Her fingers were stabilized and she received pain medication and antibiotics to prevent her wounds from becoming infected.
Mekki is an extremely docile bats whose injuries prevented her from being returned to the wild. She enjoys her natural habitat cage and roosting with other non-releasable bats that share her housing.
January 1993 – February 2011
Although not a bat, Poopley, a 16-year resident of Bat World Sanctuary is deserving of a Loving Tribute.
Poopley came in as a foster dog and ended up a permanent and beloved part of Bat World Sanctuary. He came to us with a chronic intestinal problem, for which he became aptly named. During his time at the sanctuary, he witnessed our facility undergo major renovations, including enlargement of flight enclosures and the recovery room, and the coming and going of numerous visitors from around the world. Poopley was adored by hundreds of workshop attendees, and almost everyone took photos of him. He loved to dress up, his favorite costume being a bat cape and ears.
He was approximately 2 years of age when he came to Bat World, making him 18 years of age when he passed away. One of his favorite spots was in the office, where he was on constant patrol for UPS and the mailman.
Poopley was cremated and is now with us in the office at all times. Good-by “Mr. Poopley-do”. Not a day goes by that you are not deeply missed.
White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is the greatest catastrophe to ever hit US bat populations. This poorly understood malady causes a white fungus to grow on the noses and wings of hibernating bats, ultimately causing death. The condition was first identified in several caves near Albany, New York in February 2006.
WNS is now showing up in the southeast. In February, 2010, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency confirmed that two bats found in east Tennessee tested positive for WNS. In less than a month, the fungus made a 250 mile leap to western Tennessee to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The cave in Tennessee contains the largest known Indiana bat hibernacula in the state. The Indiana bat is a federally listed endangered species. In mid-April, 2010, the Missouri Department of Conservation confirmed Missouri’s first WNS case. As the disease spreads to the Midwest and to other southeastern states, it threatens the federally endangered bats such as the Indiana bat, gray bat, Ozark big-eared bat, and Virginia big-eared bat, as well as some of the largest bat populations in the United States. Over 90% of the wintering bats in some New England caves and mines have died because of WNS. Research scientists working to identify the source of the fungus and learn why it is killing bats wonder whether they have enough time to find a solution. It has been four years and they are nowhere close to understanding what is happening, or how to stop it.
What we do understand, however, is that we can save bats through the development of captive assurance colonies. Bat World Sanctuary is the only facility to successfully maintain a reproductive colony of insectivorous bats for almost two decades. This colony has reproduced nine times in captivity, including third generation offspring.We are currently working with bat care specialists throughout the U.S. to provide specialized training to others interested in maintaining captive assurance colonies.Additionally, we are seeking land and funds to build a larger teaching hospital and sanctuary for the purpose of housing colonies of bat species in jeopardy of disappearing due to WNS. Please help us by donating to this critical project.
Managing WNS through culling?
WNS DeconProtocolWNS DeconProtocol
WNS Decon Protocol for Cavers WNS Decon Protocol for Cavers
2006: WNS first identified in a cave in Schoharie County, New York
2007/2008: WNS spreads to other New York caves and into VT, MA and CT.
2009: WNS confirmed in NH, NJ, PA, WV and VA.
Feb 2010: WNS confirmed in MD:
March 19, 2010: WNS confirmed in Ontario, Canada.
March 22, 2010: WNS confirmed in MD.
March 24, 2010: WNS confirmed in Tennessee.
April 12, 2010: WNS confirmed in Quebec, Canada.
April 19, 2010. WNS confirmed in Missouri
April 30, 2010: WNS confirmed in Delaware.
May 3, 2010: WNS confirmed in Oklahoma.
Feb 1, 2011: WNS confirmed in Indiana.
It was a hot, dry desert day in 1998 when a New Mexico lizard researcher came across a dust covered pallid bat. The bat was lying on the ground, weak and dehydrated. Back at the research station, the bat was given some water and a meal of crickets (a favorite food of pallid bats). After the emaciated bat had eaten his fill he seemed to smile in gratitude.
The researcher named the bat “Orkin” due to his ability to eat just about any kind of nasty bug. Intending to release bat, the researcher kept Orkin, feeding him his fill of bugs until he was strong enough to fly again. However, on the night of his release, Orkin continually bumped into walls during a practice flight inside the researcher’s cabin. Closer inspection revealed that Orkin was missing a key part of his ear, called the tragus, a flap of skin in a bat’s ear that is vital to echolocation and foraging for insects. Without the necessary “tools” to do his job in the wild, Orkin could not survive. His injured ear was the reason he was found grounded and starving in the first place. Orkin came to live at Bat World shortly thereafter.
He lives with other non-releasable bats of various species, in a simulated minature cave which sits inside a large, natural habitat flight cage. During the day Orkin likes to snuggle and sleep with free-tailed bats.
At night, he flies until his heart’s content, then goes back to polish off mealworms and crickets that fill dishes inside the cave.
Orkin has grown quite portly in his old age life, although he still enjoys life to the fullest. He was retired from the Adopt-a-bat program in 2012.