Text by Tina Wiffen.
As a bat carer I get several calls a year for baby bats that have been found out of their roosts. Young bats are extremely hard to hand rear successfully, and bats do a far better job of raising their pups than bat carers. Kit Wood, from Lancashire, has spent many years trialling a method to get baby bats collected by their mothers. We have been using this system in Northumberland this year with great success.
The idea is to place the pup somewhere where the mother bat can find it and can easily land near to her pup to collect it. My set up is built on a stepladder, with a landing pad made from a cardboard box lid, a hot water bottle and a tea towel (see photo, right). It has been modified with pipe lagging to prevent pups crawling away…
The pups are placed onto this as it is getting dark, near to, BUT not under the roost, and they are kept warm with the hot water bottle.
As the bats emerge there is initially little interest in the pup, but generally after an hour or so a bat will come to have a look at the setup and the pup. Then, hopefully, within 5-15 minutes the bats turn up to inspect the pup and hopefully collect it. Pups are often collected on the second night of trying, we don’t understand why this is, but it does give us two, or even three nights, to get the pup back to its mum.
Its brilliant when it happens, the adults will start to swarm around the pup touching off and even landing to inspect the pup. The pup will respond by calling, there is so much activity, often after nothing at all for over an hour, and then if it all goes to plan, the mother will land, suckle her pup, and then take it with her. It is such an amazing thing to watch…
To see this happening, click on the video links below: