I’ve been asking our bat carers to write guest blogs about their experiences caring for bats, and this is the first, by Leigh:
My name is Leigh and I became a bat care volunteer last year. I had helped out with Brumbats for a couple of years previously in a more unofficial capacity but decided in September 2012 to become a bat ambulance driver (doing pickups and providing initial short term care). So off I went to get my rabies jabs, which I can confidently say are no different to any other vaccination I have ever had, and signed up for the Brumbats bat care workshop in January 2013.
However, I was called upon to do two pickups at the end of 2012 (one of them because all the other carers were out of town at the National Bat Conference) and unfortunately on both occasions the bat died. This is something we have to deal with and although it was a bit of a blow to have such negative outcomes on my first bat calls I was reminded by my good friend and experienced bat carer, Morgan Bowers, that at least I had provided them with a warm safe place to spend their final hours.
January brought around the bat care course, expertly tutored by Christine Sherlock and Morgan Bowers. It gave me a chance to get some more bat handling experience, gain invaluable knowledge on dealing with the public, the best places to look for ‘lost bats’ trapped in people’s houses, etc and to connect with other bat carers. The next few months were taken up with meetings and planning for the new flight cage (although I couldn’t get to as many of these as I had hoped)!
Then, in June, I got my next bat call. I went and picked up ‘Christian’ who was in a good general condition but had bruising around one finger bone, which could mean break, and a few small punctures in his wing. I handed him over to Morgan who took care of him for about two weeks and I was then able to take him back to the house I had collected him from and successfully released him, much to the joy of Linzi who had called us out initially. This was my first return to the wild!!
Over the rest of the season I had five more calls, two had bad fractures and had to be euthanized. One was a particularly bad compound fracture close to the wrist and I knew there was nothing we would be able to do. I took him to the vets, who agreed, and they put him to sleep. This injury had come from what is a common occurrence with a lot of bat call outs we receive, bat vs cat.
Two of the remaining calls were for bats that on initial examination were in good condition if a little shocked or underweight so stayed with me for a week or so before being released. And finally, there was Woody, who is still in care with Morgan, but should be ready for release in the Spring.
And, although I am not a long term carer, I did have a lodger over the Summer for six weeks! P Diddy was a pup, born while his mother was in care, he was fully grown, in the best of health (if a little grumpy) and just needed looking after until the flight cage was built so he had somewhere to learn to fly and eat on the wing. He was soft released at the end of the season, another success for Brumbats!
I know Morgan has already had her first bats of the year coming in, so I better get my kit ready to go as I am sure there will be more bats needing our help over the coming months.
If this blog has inspired you to get involved in bat care, take a look at our bat care pages or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org