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Help! I have a bat in distress!


Please don’t panic!

Please DO phone the national bat helpline on 0345 1300228 as soon as you can, a trained advisor will be able to help you help the bat. If a bat worker needs to come out, we will get there as soon as we can but please be patient with us, we are all volunteers! Northumberland Bat Group has several volunteers trained in caring for bats and returning them to the wild.


If the line is not on 24 hour duty (such as during the winter) or if there is a delay in help arriving, these suggestions may be helpful.


1.Try not to handle the bat at all, if you can.

Normally handling bats requires a licence (as they are a protected species) but the law is sensible, better to handle an animal in distress to help it then leave it to die! Bats are delicate little things and easily frightened though, so if you can avoid picking them up they will appreciate it. ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES.


2.Is the bat obviously injured?

If the bat is limping (one wing/arm or foot is dragging in comparison to the other) or there is damage to its body or holes in its wings this bat is likely to need trained help. The advice line may advise a volunteer will visit, or may ask if you can take it to a vet. Either way, the bat needs to be kept safe and comfortable until help arrives. If a vet is willing to treat a bat but not re-habilitate it, please call the Bat Advice line to arrange bat care.


3.Make sure bat is not dehydrated: Try giving the bat some water on a small, clean paintbrush, they dehydrate very quickly due to the large surface area of their wings. Water can also be left for them to lap in a shallow container such as the plastic top of a milk bottle.


4.Keep your bat safe If appropriate, put a milk top of water by the bat and place an upturned cardboard box over the bat, weight the flaps on the outside to stop it blowing away.


If this is not practical, move the bat. Using gloves, place the bat in a shoebox lined with sheets of kitchen paper in a dark quiet place. Put water in for the bat but remember to take it out again before moving the box (a cold, wet, injured bat is not going to be a happy one!). Please always remember to put the lid on the box, after piercing small air holes in it, bats are amazing escapologists…even severely injured ones!


5.Try feeding the bat. Finding suitable food is more of a problem, all bats are insectivores and some are quite picky about what they eat. In the wild a bat will not eat every night, if it is short of food it will conserve energy by going cold and very still. This looks a lot like it dying, but is a form of hibernation so don’t worry. Water is more important though, so if you have none, don’t panic. Try a non-fishy dog or cat food, the less smelly the better.


If you cannot feed it, make sure it has drank some water and keep it safe, quiet, cool and dark until help comes.



Captive bats are fed live mealworms, available from pet shops supplying reptile keepers.  Even these are not ideal, but as near to their wild food as we can get (plus feeding a bat over 3000 midges a night would be time consuming!).


If your bat appears to uninjured, has taken water and is moving well, try to release it at dusk, where it was found, from a point over 1m high, away from cats, bat’s no1 predator. Bats can’t take off very well from the ground, a gliding start is better for them, so a higher starting point is better. It may well shiver to warm itself up before take-off.


If the bat can’t or won’t fly, call 0345 1300 228 to arrange for a bat carer to attend to it.


Cats are sadly very fond of playing with bats and responsible for a huge number of bat deaths each year. If your cat is looking guilty, or hopefully before things get to that stage, please click here to download a copy of the leaflet ‘How to avoid a CATastrophe’.