Having given him a drink of water (always the number one priority with a casualty bat - they can go a few days without food, but dehydration is a swift killer) I checked Engelbat over for signs of injury and found none. I then took him home and installed him in the bat-cage. This is simply a small plastic cage of the type used to transport hamsters etc. Inside is a shallow water-bowl, a glass jar of warm water with a towel wrapped round it (to simulate his mother) and a canvas pouch hanging on one site, to allow him to retreat out of site into a simulated crevice. He quickly grabbed onto the warm sock and settled down and I left him to get used to his new surroundings. Later he left the sock and took a drink from the bowl, before moving up into the canvas pouch: all positive signs.
Thursday, 8 September 2011
I once worked on a bat project with someone whose sense of humour was completely absent. Anyone who knows me will tell you that my sense of humour is ever-present and decidedly peculiar, so things would always be a little difficult! This person was adamant that individual bats should never be given names as it anthropomorphises them, though in my view giving something a name simply labels it and is harmless (it is poor interpretation of behaviour that anthropomorphises a wild animal). The result of this difference of opinion is that, in honour of the humourless one, any bat which passes through my hands is immediately given a ludicrous name. This is how Engelbat (Engelbat Humperdink? Geddit? No? See what I mean?) came to be named.
He was a juvenile Brown Long-eared Bat (Plecotus auritus), found one July morning on the ground floor of a large country house. The house has a known BLE maternity roost in the attic, four stories above, but Engelbat had wandered quite some distance from there and looked rather sorry for himself, covered in cobwebs and tucked under a radiator.
I had no way of knowing why he had left the roost. This site has no history of bats straying into the building. It's possible his mother had died, causing him to become dehydrated and leave the roost in search of water. However, as he was old enough to fly it is perhaps more likely that he got separated from his mother and simply ended up in the wrong place. I often explain to roost owners that young bats are just as likely to do something silly as young humans.
I don't normally get involved in bat rehabilitation work. It's a difficult, skilled and phenomenally time-consuming job, so I normally pass casualty bats on to those dedicated individuals who excel in it (hats off to Tracey, Carol and Nigel!). However, Engelbat was a bit different in that he was several weeks old and capable of flight. he just needed some TLC and a plan to get him back into the company of his mother.
A close-up of Engelbat's wing, showing the clear patches (unossified bone) in his joints which indicate a juvenile.