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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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