Mark the Soprano

Photos and text by Mandy and Neil Tomas. 

Bats in care that we have been privileged to meet:

Continuing on from the ‘Rex’ King of the bats, to a species everyone encounters and is equally important. Soprano pipistrelles are small bats that are usually seen and live near human habitation, why live in a tree when these humans have built buildings that are insulated and draught free? We should all love pipistrelles as they are known to eat 3000 midges a night, and up to 4500 if the female is heavily pregnant or lactating (research was completed in a flight cage with unlimited midges).

‘Mark’ the Soprano was found in an occupied holiday house in December when he should have been in hibernation, and had been crawling over the floor.

Mark the bat in a hoodie
Mark the Soprano in his hoodie.

Please ignore my stray hairs, this is in the hood of my hoodie. Mark didn’t want to fly, and instead of leaving my hand to do a few laps of the flying room, he would crawl up my arm (remarkably quickly) and get into my hood. Here he would stay until he was fed, when he would go back up there or on my shoulder. Neil would have to evict him at bed time, which he really, really didn’t like. It was the only time he made a fuss.

Given that he came into care mid-December, he was going to be in for the winter, but he refused to go into hibernation after he got back up to weight, and made it plain he loved his heat mat so I could forget turning that off!

Mark would only accept mealworm inners fed by hand to him, not for him headless or even live mealworms. His refusal to eat anything other than inners was worrying, and we looked into his mouth in case he had injured it.

Mark on his favourite blue hoodie.
Mark missing teeth, and some rotten teeth remain....

Oh dear who hasn’t been brushing their teeth properly? It turned out he had very few teeth and those he did have were in a terrible state. Our vet at the time refused to try and do anything with them as she said they were too small, but gave us antibiotics which helped with inflammation allowing him to eat better. Mark was a very old bat, they are known to live to about 15 years in the wild, and possibly he was that old.

Mark continued to live with us for another seven months, enjoying his evenings in the hoodie (who knew a bat would dictate what you wore in the evening!), until he passed away peacefully – what a character!

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