Rescuing Cold-Stunned Bats

When an arctic front passed through Texas between Christmas and New Years Eve, over 1,600 bats fell from their roosts, particularly those roosting beneath bridges. Most of these bats were in the Houston area. Mary Warwick, Director of the Houston Humane Society, quickly went to work gathering these bats from the sidewalks and other areas below the bridges, and then contacted us for help. We advised warming the bats, and then doing a health check on each bat to see who could go back into torpor (a semi-hibernative state). A warm front was expected within days, and the bats could be released then. Thankfully, Mary had an attic that would maintain the perfect temperature for the bats sleep until they could be released.

We quickly went to work, sending a volunteer over to help Mary sort through the bats to determine who was healthy enough to be released and who needed long-term care. Then, a wonderful transport volunteer made a 12-hour round trip to bring the bats needing extra care to Bat World Midcities and Bat World Sanctuary. When more bats began to fall from bridges, our volunteers made additional trips to save as many as possible. Over 160 bats arrived at Bat World for care and thankfully, after two to three weeks of injections of warmed electrolytes and good nutrition, they were fully recovered and ready to fly free.

It takes a village! Bat World staff and volunteers hand-feeding some of the 160 bats needing additional care after being cold-stunned.

In mid-January, Kate Rugroden, our Director of  Special Projects, made a special trip to Houston to teach a two-day class to Mary and her team of volunteers. The bats who needed special care also traveled to Houston with Kate so they could be released back into their colonies. Thankfully, out of over 1,600 bats,  less than a dozen suffered permanent injuries. These bats will receive lifetime sanctuary with us and other bats of their kind.

We’re proud of how well our organizations worked together to save so many lives, and look forward to saving many more bats together!

Bat World Sanctuary's Director of Special Projects, Kate Rugroden, instructing the staff of the Houston Humane Society on insectivorous bat rehabilitation during a two-day workshop in mid-January.