Rachel Fryer is back with another bat care guest blog:
When Paul the common pipistrelle bat first came into my care 27th November 2013, he was estimated to be around 4.5g and still had a small tear in his membrane. He and Kevin were the first bats I have cared for (rather than just collecting and passing onto a carer). I measured the forearms of both bats to get an idea of their size. And both were very similar; Kevin 31.2mm and Paul 31.23mm. I then fed them up to a healthy weight over the winter, as they were too light for release prior to the hibernation period.
As Paul cohabited with Kevin (also a common pipistrelle) for some time, I recorded the total meal worms eaten each day between them (blue bars). They initially ate between 13 and 19 mealworms per night, rising to 30 after a few days. They consistently ate well but with regular dips in appetite. Paul was separated from Kevin for two days early on, and so I then recorded the number of mealworms eaten individually (orange bars) and continued this when Kevin sadly didn’t survive. I thought this might be interesting to graph and it does appear that the bats had regular peaks and troughs in appetite.
I monitored Paul’s weight throughout the (just under) 4 months that he was in my care. I did this ‘now and then’, so as not to disturb him too much. His weight had increased to a chunky 6.7g by 29th December and dropped a little to 6.2g by 25th January, 5.8g on 18th February and 5.6g on 11th March. He flew like an absolute pro in the flight cage on 10th and 25th January and became a resident of the flight cage 16th March when the weather warmed up. Paul continued to be a strong flier and a feisty bat and was successfully released (see video below) near where he was collected, at Brunswick Park, Wednesbury on 8th April.
Although other carers, including Morgan and Chris, cared for Paul before me, and certainly did the hard work with him when he first came into care, I feel like Paul was my first success. It was so lovely to see him through to the release and watch and listen to Paul loop around us, before disappearing and becoming a wild bat again.