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Nosey Nostrils

The winter of 2006 brought severe temperature swings in Texas, making it difficult for hibernating species of bats. Warm weather perhaps made the little bat stir from his sleep behind the bark of the tree that he had chosen for his winter roost. His actions did not go unnoticed by a large grackle. The bird used his sharp, black bill force the tiny bat to the ground. The scene was witnessed by a farmer, who originally thought the bird was pecking at some insects until he saw the small, winged creature struggling beneath the pecking grackle. He ran over to rescue the bat, and soon realized the little fellow needed urgent care.

When the injured bat arrived to Bat World, it was difficult to see his tiny face because it was soaked in blood. He was an adult evening bat, barely 2” in length as opposed to the nearly 13” grackle that attacked him. His head was grossly swollen from the injury, and his left wing was damaged.

After we administered pain medication, we gently cleaned his face to analyze the full extent of his injuries. Miraculously, his eyes were uninjured. We winced, however, to discover that his miniature nose was almost torn in half. We pieced his nostril back together and cleansed the open wounds on his injured wing. His tiny eyes blinked up at us as we were helping him, as if to say thank you. Our little battered soldier of the woods received antibiotics, fluids, and warmth for the next 72 hours. The swelling of his head slowly subsided. The following weeks were very difficult for him because he could not eat properly. His damaged nostril made it impossible to breathe through his nose while he was being hand-fed, so he frequently needed to stop and breathe through his mouth between tiny mouthfuls of food.

We were so very pleased, that a mere 3 months later, he was able to eat normally. The splendor of his good looks and personality speaks for itself, despite the fact that he is now marred by a deformed nostril on his left side and occasionally has to breath through his mouth. Mr. Nosey Nostrils, as he was affectionately named, is not releasable because of his injuries, but thankfully he has settled into the non-releasable bat colony. He continues to roosts with Mexican free-tail bats and is very partial to a pipistrelle bat named Holly, with whom he snuggles everyday.

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Mr.Kitty

A tale of wonderful irony, of how animals who normally share a predator/prey relationship, ended up saving each other.

The story starts with feral cats. As with many small towns, Mineral Wells, TX, the location of Bat World Sanctuary headquarters, has its fair share of stray cats. Several years ago two cats began hanging around the trash bin outside the back of the Bat World facility. Both cats were very thin and both were pregnant. Taking pity, we started feeding the cats, created a shelter, and a relationship began. One of the cats (later named Dumb Bell) had 3 kittens and promptly abandoned them. We watched in amazement as the other cat (dubbed Miss Kitty for the lack of anything more original) moved the abandoned kittens to the spot she had chosen for her 3 newborns, and proceeded to nurse and care for all 6 of them. Within two years, however, the situation had grown well out of hand when 14 cats and kittens of various sizes had taken over the back parking lot.

Upon looking for a humane solution over the internet, we came across the Trap, Neuter, Return plan (TNR), a rapidly growing program promoted in the US by Alley Cat Allies. The TNR program is the most humane and effective way to reduce feral cat populations. It is designed for homeless cats living outdoors in cities, towns and rural areas.

Kittens and tame adult cats are caught and adopted into homes if they are available. Feral adult cats are humanely trapped, then spayed/neutered and vaccinated. After recovery they are returned to their familiar habitat where they remain under the lifelong care of volunteers. Some people feel that the TNR program is destructive to wildlife. However, the destruction to wildlife is greatly lessened when wild cat populations are controlled and care is provided. One wild, unspayed cat is capable of exponentially producing a whopping 59,049 offspring in just 5 years, and cats that are regularly fed by caretakers hunt less wildlife as a source of food. Lethal methods to control wild cat populations do not work as they don’t get to the root of the problem. New cats take over the territory of the previous cats, and they will continue to breed.

We were able to find homes for a few kittens. Others were captured and taken to a no-kill shelter in a larger city. The two original cats remained. Miss Kitty was the first stray cat to enter our local TNR program. After her return from the vet she tamed a bit and allowed us to slip a collar and ID tag around her neck. Although still wild for the most part, she began hanging around a few hours each evening, allowing us to pet her at times. Not long after she began bringing us presents.

Miss Kitty
Miss Kitty, sitting on the perch we built for her in the back of Bat World’s facility.

As any cat owner will tell you, cats have long been known to bring their owners little gifts of live bugs, mice and the like. Miss Kitty, however, brings bats. Not bats she has hunted and caught, but grounded bats that are in need of rescue. To date she has brought three grounded bats to Bat World. One bat was emaciated and dehydrated, with no injuries from being carried in her mouth. Another bat had a wing tear and was unable to fly (again, no injuries from being carried in her mouth) and a third had an open fracture, the exposed bone long-dry, indicating the break was at least a few days old.

The first two bats arrived during the fall of 2005. Each bat was deposited on the sidewalk while Miss Kitty sat close by, waiting for us to emerge from the back door, seemingly holding her stance to make certain it stayed in place until helping hands retrieved it.

These two bats only needed a short stay in rehab and were eventually returned to the wild (with, we imagine, harrowing tales to tell their roostmates when they returned!). Amanda Lollar, President of Bat World, had the opportunity to witness the third bat being brought to us in May of 2006. She was outside at dusk and noticed Miss Kitty scurrying across the parking lot toward the back of Bat World, carrying something gently in her mouth. Amanda cringed at the thought while hoping for the best. Miss Kitty gently laid the injured form at Amanda’s feet, then looked up into her face and proudly meowed while arching her back to be petted. Amanda bent to scoop the bat up with one hand while petting Miss Kitty with the other.

Mr. Kitty peeking out of a roosting rock, checking on his neighbors.

The dried bone in the little bat’s wing could not be repaired well enough to allow flight, so he is not releasable. However, he healed very quickly and has adapted well to captivity. To honor his rescuer he has been named Mr. Kitty. Mr. Kitty is now a permanent member of the indoor cave at Bat World Sanctuary. Oddly enough, like his rescuer, Mr. Kitty himself has a ‘take charge’ attitude and spends his time in multiple roosting rocks, seemingly checking on the activities of the other bats. Mr. Kitty learned to self-feed on mealworms and has grown quite plump. He does not, thankfully, bring us presents.

For information on starting a TNR program in your area visit alleycat.org.

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Cleobatra

Cleobatra was sent to Bat World by an Arizona zoo in 1994. The young bat had sustained permanent toe injuries from hanging onto the stiff wire that was used for her caging, and she was no longer able to hang upside-down. Not having the resources to care for an invalid bat, the zoo staff decided to send her to Bat World Sanctuary.

At Bat World, Cleobatra discovered that she could easily hang upside-down on the soft netting, vines and limbs that decorated the inside of the flight cage. In no time at all she was “hanging out” with over 20 other Egyptian fruit bats who also live in a simulated indoor forest at Bat World Sanctuary.

At Bat World, the flight cage floor is thickly padded in case a bat falls, but another adaptation has been added to the cage specifically for Cleobatra. Soft mesh hammocks were secured from the ceiling throughout the flight cage to allow Cleo to rest her toes. Her favorite hammock is beside a large fruit dish.

Cleobatra has grown into a “little old lady’ but is still lively and active at night, munching on fresh pieces of melons, apples, pears, peaches, mangoes, grapes and fig. She particularly enjoys “fruit kabob” night, when whole peeled apples and mangoes are skewered onto kabobs and hung from the flight cage ceiling. To this day, Cleobatra takes delight in hanging directly on an apple, teasing the other bats by nibbling off small pieces while hogging it all to herself.

In 2017, Cleobatra turned 23 years old. She is a sweet little old lady now and receives arthritis medication daily. She likes to roost in what we call “The Old Ladies Clubhouse” (also known as the roosting cam, seen on this link).

Lone Star Woodcraft

ABOUT LONE STAR WOODCRAFT BAT HOUSES


Lone Star Woodcraft Bat Houses were designed based on the results of more than ten years of research and meets and exceeds all the criteria as outlined by Bat Conservation International’s bat house certification program. The interior surfaces and landing platforms are made of rough cut cedar which makes it easy for bats to cling when roosting and landing. The ventilation gap in the front of the houses, in conjunction with the attic space, serves to maintain proper temperature and helps with air circulation. The roof is slanted forward at 30 degrees for better rain run-off. These bat houses weather beautifully as they are made of weather-resistant Western Red Cedar. All bat houses come with a mounting instruction card detailing position, direction, height etc. as established by BCI.

No pressure treated wood or plywood is used because they don’t stand up to the environment, and because of the problems that may be associated with chemicals used to treat the wood. Lone Star Woodcraft uses rough cut Western Red Cedar for the qualities it possesses: extreme rot resistance, insect resistance, lighter in weight than pine or plywood for easier mounting, very stable when exposed to the environment, and it comes rough cut from the mill. Western Red Cedar qualities mean low to no maintenance.

The houses are fully caulked and offer a longer design which is a key factor in occupancy. 3/4″ chamber(s) give protection from predators, and deters wasp and hornets which prefer 1 1/2″ chambers. The chamber(s) are also constructed with rough cut cedar which provide great grasping points for bats. Proper bat house design is a very important factor in occupancy. This design has been proven to have a greater than 80% occupancy rate. Triple-celled bat houses tend to work quicker and for longer periods (i.e. throughout spring, summer, and fall). Comes with mounting instructions/screws. Hand made in the USA.


please Email with anyquestions or custom orders:
[email protected]
Garden Ridge, Texas (just off Bat Cave Rd)
Phone: (210) 885-0811


General Bat House Information


BAT HOUSE PLANS BAT HOUSE PUP CATCHER

 


Common Questions and answers About Bat Houses

Where should I hang my bat house?

The most successful bat houses are those mounted on a building or a chimney at a height of 15 feet or more. For most of the continental USA, the houses should be placed facing to the southwest. However, the southern states have proved that other directions can be successful also. The house should face a clearing and be located away from branches or power lines. Bat houses with ventilation slots on the side should be mounted so the slots will not be obstructed by the eaves of the building. Bat houses can also be mounted on poles, but are not as successful as those mounted on buildings. Bat houses mounted on trees are the least successful because bats that naturally roost in trees are solitary and roost openly on branches (colonial, socialistic, crevice-dwelling species use bat houses).


How can I attract bats to my bat house?

There is no known substance or plant that attracts bats or increases the chances of bat house occupation. However, bat houses that are mounted within 1/4 mile of a body of water (e.g. creek, pond or lake) are more quickly inhabited than those that are not. Also, houses that are located in areas where colonies of bats already exist in buildings or caves are more likely to be occupied.


Can bats be purchased or relocated to my bat house?

It is illegal to buy or sell bats, in part because over 56% of bat species in the US are
endangered or official candidates for listing with the United States Fish and Wildlife Department. Bats cannot be relocated and introduced into a bat house because they are highly territorial and will simply attempt to fly back to where they came from.


Will a bat house interfere with my bird house?

No, birds and bats do not compete for food or space.


Can a bat house on my home be dangerous?

Although bats rarely contract rabies, those that are found on the ground are more likely to be sick (or injured) and may bite in self-defense when handled. Consequently, children should be taught to never handle bats and pets should be vaccinated against rabies. If a bat is found grounded do not handle it with bare hands. Use leather gloves or a thick cloth to gently gather up the bat. Place the bat into a ventilated box, put the lid on and call a wildlife rehabilitator or organization for help. Keep the box in an area away from children or pets until help arrives. If the bat has already been handled without gloves or has had (or is suspected of having) contact with children or pets, please call your health department as well as animal control. Bat droppings (guano) pose no more of a health threat than the droppings from birds or other mammals. Be careful not to place plants directly under your bat house as guano is a very potent fertilizer and is likely to ‘burn’ plants receiving a large amount!


Will a bat house attract bats to live in my home?

If bats were attracted to your home they would probably already be roosting there.


I already have a bat house and have had no luck, what’s wrong?

It is not uncommon for a bat house to go unoccupied for months or even years, although the average time for first occupancy is 6 to 12 months. If you feel that the timeline has become excessive, it could be due to the house not being mounted in a good location, direction, height or it may even be a poor design. Be wary of bat houses that seem small, offer no ventilation or do not have screened/grooved surfaces giving proper foot holds (roughed wood alone is not an adequate surface). If you have already purchased a bat house that you suspect is a poor design, try modifying the house by adding the above recommendations.


How can I tell if bats have found my bat house?

Colonial bats are often noisy throughout the day as they change roost mates or compete for a favored spot in a roost. Another indication that bats are occupying your bat house is evidence of bat droppings on the landing platform or on the ground beneath the bat house.


How can I tell if bats have found my bat house?

Colonial bats are often noisy throughout the day as they change roost mates or compete for a favored spot in a roost. Another indication that bats are occupying your bat house is evidence of bat droppings on the landing platform or on the ground beneath the bat house.


Instructions for Mounting a Bat House


LOCATION and PLACEMENT:

For best results in gaining occupants for your bat house, choose an area that is 60 feet or more from trees and within ¼ mile of a body of water such as creek, pond or lake.

When choosing a direction to face the house (in the continental U.S.) results show that southwest facing houses do better than those facing other directions.

The higher you place your house the better. Preferably 15 to 25 feet.



Randy Turner

Volunteer Randy Turner with Peekaboo, an Egyptian fruit bat.

Bat World Sanctuary volunteer Attorney Randy Turner has been an avid animal lover all his life. He has worked on elephant conservation in Kenya, black rhinoceros conservation in Zimbabwe, and worked extensively with ex-captive orangutans that had been confiscated by the Indonesian government, gradually re-introducing them into the wild.  Randy is past Vice president of the Humane Society of North Texas, served as President of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, and chair of the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Texas (of which he was a founding member in 1996).  Randy regularly defends animal rights activists and represents several animal rescue and welfare organizations, including Bat World Sanctuary.  He also serves as a consultant in cruelty seizure cases. He is the attorney in Medlen v. Strickland, a case where the Court of Appeals ruled for the first time in Texas history that the owner of a dog that is killed may sue for the sentimental value of the dog rather than just the market value (now pending in the Supreme Court).  One of his cases was in the documentary film called “Mine”, about the dogs of Hurricane Katrina. Randy lectures on animal law regularly and has written several articles on animal law. We are very proud to have him as a regular volunteer at Bat World Sanctuary.

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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.

A Historic Texas Building Becomes an Unusual Habitat

Original Source: Preservation Magazine/People Saving Places

By Wendy Lyons Sunshine | Online Only | Mar. 27, 2009 

Mineral
This historic buiding in Mineral Wells, Texas, is
home to 30,000 migratory bats. Credit: Bat World

Seventeen years ago, Amanda Lollar learned that a dilapidated apartment building in Mineral Wells, Texas, halfway between Dallas and Abilene, was going up for sale. The roof was damaged, and the building was infested with bats. The owner planned to bring in an exterminator before for the sale, and that worried Lollar, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. So she made a bold move. She purchased the 19th-century structure “as-is” for $20,000, with the intent of saving the thousands of wild migratory bats that lived there.

Named for the springs that percolate through its dry soil, Mineral Wells attracted health-conscious visitors in the late 1800s and early 1900s, who came to be healed by the town’s healing waters.

Today the historic downtown has seen better days. Vacant storefronts dot Main Street, with the occasional retail shop wedged next to modest eateries and banks. In typical small-town style, the buildings are of similar width and depth, and set flush to each other. Made of brick or stone, with stucco interiors, they’re designed to have shops at street level and living quarters above. Some of these buildings even still have a potentially active spring well inside. One such building—owned by a bottling company that sells the water from its well—doubles as a tourist attraction.

Downtown Mineral Wells doesn’t get much tourist traffic, but it does attract another kind of visitor. Migratory Mexican free-tailed bats make it their annual stop-over point each year, attracted by the nooks and crannies in the old weathered brick and stone buildings.

Constructed in 1899, Lollar’s building is a “Italian Renaissance-style commercial building with rough-cut sandstone walls and smooth-cut pilasters, a crenellated parapet with peaked pediment, dentils, a chamfered entry, and hood molds over low-arched windows,” according to Bob Brinkman of the Texas Historical Commission. Crumbling mortar allowed bats to scuttle in and roost under the eaves. Because of these bats, the building is essentially being mothballed and maintained instead of abandoned or demolished. Read an excerpt from Forum Journal about a Yosemite Valley farmhouse that survived not because the National Park Service chose to preserve it for its historical significance, but because a rare colony of bats made it home.

Amanda
Amanda Lollar holds a 20-year-old fruit bat that
was scheduled to be euthanized by a zoo. Credit: Bat World

Lollar’s first priority, after the bats had flown off to winter quarters, was to fix the leaky roof. “That’s when we started to clean out the crawl space,” she said. Pulling down a few foot-wide ceiling planks unleashed a torrent of guano that billowed black dust throughout the vacant second floor. “You couldn’t see your hand in front of you,” said Lollar. “We were wearing goggles, gloves, masks, the whole bit, and I was coated. It even went into my socks and between my toes.” Lollar calculates she and a volunteer eventually bagged up 6,000 pounds of bat waste, which a gardener hauled off for composting.

Over the next few winters, Lollar removed the ceiling to expose the crawl space, opened sash windows, and brought in industrial fans to improve ventilation. Lollar lay padding on the floor and hung netting so young pups that fell could climb back up. She also installed two catwalks that allow her to inspect the colony and rescue ailing bats.

Ultimately, Lollar transformed the second floor into what she calls a “pre-release flight cage” with 16-foot ceilings. During spring and summer, thousands of bats hang from the rafters as others swoop and soar, making clicking and chirping sounds. Approximately 30,000 bats come and go through rooftop crevices each night. With help from an anonymous donor, Lollar hired an engineer to study the building and then had the foundation stabilized in 2007. She continues to lease out the lower floor as offices, to help defray expenses and maintain the building.

“I’ve not done anything to the building that couldn’t be repaired and restored,” says Lollar, who would love to see it brought back to its original state. “I’d prefer to sell it to somebody who will restore it. I will happily help them bat-proof it.”

Lollar calculates that downtown Mineral Wells attracts more than 150,000 bats each year. A nearby historic hotel, for example, hosts an enormous population under the arched ceramic roof tiles that serve as tiny bat condos. Back in 1995, Lollar tried to persuade the local tourism committee to promote the bats, but her efforts fell short. Today Lollar’s wild bat sanctuary is largely ignored or criticized by residents (but she emphasizes that bats provide valuable pest-control services: Every evening they swarm out to dine on tens of thousands of moths, mosquitoes, and other insects). Her sanctuary remains a popular destination for conservation researchers and graduate scientists who want to study bat colonies in the wild.

Lollar, who has become a recognized expert in bat care, plans to build an artificial cave in a less developed area a few miles away, and relocate the wild colony there. Then, she hopes, the historic building she saved could receive more attention and undergo a rehabilitation of its own.

Wendy Lyons Sunshine writes for OnEarth, Sierra, Planning, and many other publications. She is a teaching fellow at the University of North Texas.

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