No longer batless.
I was handed a black, dripping beastie. The lady had found the bat clinging to the chlorine dispenser in the pool. When I picked him up a ew hours later he was still sopping wet. An hour in a warm bat tent dried him out nicely.
He's another young broadnosed bat; the same species as the utter bastard from the other pool and Florence. Except he's very quiet. I don't know who much water he drank, so I'll keep him a few days to see how things go. He ate a dozen meal worms, which is good.
G Bat needs a name. Goober is looking good.
Thank you for all the suggestions!
kelloggs2066 and hedgegoth: I had a Gerry last year. Sorry.
crossfire: What language is that? While it is entirely appropriate, I can't give a bat a name longer than the animal itself. 8)
ursulav: Genghis would have been a good name for that other tooth-gnashing little sod if I was going to keep him for more than a few hours. This new one's not a Gengis.
kevinpease suggested Grommit which is almost Gromit, the name of my all time favourite animated dog. So this bat will be Gromit.
Thanks for playing! I'll keep this list for the next G bat.
Gromit is eating well, but he has an odd cough which sounds like he's popping. I don't know if bats can get colds, but they can get pnuemonia. I've given him a little vet-quality amoxycillian to help him.
He gutsed down a dozen worms but when I tried to give him some water he gave me a "tell me you're joking" look. He's also trying to fly when I get him out of the tent. This is good.
Last night I forced him to self-feed. Previous attempts had him give up and I had to hand
the worms to him one at a time. They went in like logs into a wood-chipper: as one vanished I shoved another in, and so on until I had a very full bat in my hand. He'd sit still for a long while, squeeking happily and grunting every time he tried to move.
Last night I simply piled about 25 worms onto the dish, shoved his nose in and zipped the tent shut. When I checked this morning all the worms were gone. This means I can cut my handling back to a minimum.
Tonight I'll lock us in the spare room and try to get some flight time in.
I was planning on releasing him tonight, but it's pissing down with rain! I'm sure Gromit would really appreciate that. I'll let him go tomorrow if possible, while hopeforyou, sinboy and mikz are here.
hopeforyou, sinboy and mikz arrived here at 4pm, too late to see hte zoo. We sat around chatting, they met my family and the dogs (Polly loves sinboy) before heading off to THe Crows Nes for our meal. The restaurant is on the open verandah above the Pastoral Hotel. It's like eating on Lygon Street, Melbourne, but without Melbourne.
hopeforyou and I had barramundi with prawns and bernaise sauce, sinboy had a medium rare steak (and this cook doesn't do every steak well done) and mikz had a vegetarian pasta. Unfortunately they put mushrooms in his pasta and he had to send it back. The chef knocked up a nice replacement at short notice.
Afterwards, we collected Gromit and took him back to the hose I rescued him from. Mum and the two daughters ran out to meet us, while Dad followed in a "Why are you making all this noise over a bat" way. I held Gromit so they could take a photo. He stretched his wings wide and a few seconds later he was gone.
Then we drove to a spot just out of town and lookde at the stars. We saw two satellites and a brief meteor shower of three streaks in 5 seconds.
Hope and Sinboy got to hear TISM. heh.
Tomorrow, we go to The Zoo.
A lady came to my house and handed over a tiny, wet bat. She'd found him swimming in 6 inches of water at the bottom of a 200 litre (44gallon) drum.
He's a little forest bat, and judging by his size he's another youngster with a shiny new flying licence.I'll have to weigh him when he dries out, but right now he's 3.5 grams. I guess he'll dry out to 3 grams. He's a little thin but not too thin. A few days dry R&R should have him flying again.
What is it about young bats and water? It must be a combination of the hot days and poor flying skills.
Anyway. H bat needs a name.
I have just been handed a yellow bellied sheathtailed bat. She weighs 47 grams and has a wingspan of 50cm. That's 1/2 a METRE. She's HUGE!
And she's beautiful! She has fur like black velvet on her back, but her belly is a creamy white colour. Her foxy-face, wings and tail are a deep, shiny black. She's on the Schedule 2 Vulnerable list.
She was caught on a barbed wire fence and has lost the end joints of her left "little finger" and "ring finger." I'll take her to the zoovets tomorrow to see if anything can be done, but I think they'll recommend euthenasing her. I won't like that at all.
Sheathtailed bats are recognized carriers of lyssavirus. And she bit me right through the glove and drew blood. Bugger. My immunoglobulin levels are well up and I might not need a booster, but ABL isn't an instant-death thing so I have plenty of time to plan things out. The doc at the Base Hospital says we should keep the bat for 10 days to see if it is affected by the disease. He isn't concerned so I won't be.
I just want to hug her and pat her and call her George, except George isn't a female name that starts with "I", and she has very sharp teeth, and doesn't like being patted. Okay, so that wasn't such a good idea.
Just don't get too hopeful about the sheathtailed bat. I looked at her wings again.
These are not-to-scale scans of a "typical bat" from Australian Bats, by Sue Churchill. The second finger (our index finger) generally creates a leading edge. The 3rd finger and 4th finger (our middle and ring fingers) are damaged on the sheathtail.
The difference in the diagrams doesn't look like much, but trust me, it makes a big difference.
Membrane, P3 and the joint are gone completely on both fingers, and the ends of P2 are are exposed to the air. It's not shown on the diagram, but P2 on the sheathtail is 70% of the length of the 3rd finger, and 50% of the 4th finger. Losing these bones would reduce the wing size by about half. The vets might be able to save the wing.
I took her to the vet at the zoo. They examined her properly.
She had lost all her no.2 finger, and most of her no.3 and no.4 fingers. That's about 60% of the wing. She'll never fly again.
I left her there. They'll put her on pain-killers tonight and euthanase her tomorrow. The delay is because they have to take tissue and blood samples and get them to Geelong to be tested for lyssavirus, and they can't do that tonight.
I feel like shit.
More hate mail
Apparently I am supposed to have kept the bat alive. I should have kept it in a cage, or given it to the zoo or something. I'm tired of explaining why I did this, anon. hotmail emailer, so read my journal to find out why I euthanase animals and birds. Are you the one who accused me of murdering the pigeon?
Initial lab results
I spoke to the zoovets this morning. The initial lab tests on the sheathtail bat came back negative for lyssavirus. They've sent the tissue samples to the Infectious Animal Diseases Laboratory in Geelong for further testing.
I feel rather relieved, to be honest. In the back of my mind were the little nagging doubts of "Will I need more rabies shots" and "Am I due for a fatal bout of encephalitus in 2 years?"
I think I can do a little woo-hoo now.
A big one will follow when I'm fully cleared.
I let Hagrid go last night. At sunset I piled in a heap of meal worms, hung his tent in the sycamore and opened the zipper.
This morning all the worms were gone and so was Hagrid. He'd added 1 gram to his weight since I got him. That doesn't sound like a lot until you realise he only weighed 3 grams then.
Today I took another bat, a broadnose, to the zoo for testing. I rescued him yesterday but he died overnight. Several things about j-bat worried me:
1- He was hugely agressive. I mean, wild animals are pretty cranky at the best of times, but this one was insane. He bit right through my canvas gloves, not a bad effort for an animal the size of a mouse. I felt his teeth on my skin but he didn't draw blood. He did this many times.
2- He had difficulty moving, like his arms and legs were stiff
3- He had an obsessive/compulsive need to groom and had scratched out his fur in great patches.
I was very worried. A quick Google search (australian bat lyssavirus symptoms) confirmed it in my mind. Tim the Zoovet said he'd send the body off to the Contageous Diseases Laboratory for testing. ABL isn't as bad as rabies but both people who were infected in the early 1990s died, so from a sample of 2 it is 100% fatal.
He also said that CDL is 90% certain that the bat that bit me two weeks ago is free of ABL. One more test to go and I can do a big woo hoo.
Gloves Just a note for everyone concerned that my gloves aren't good enough. Thanks for the suggestions, by the way.
Welders gloves and butcher's mesh gloves are great when handling flying foxes and are the recommended gear for those animals, but these little bats are the size of mice and smaller. If I can't feel them through the glove then I can harm them by not being careful enough. Sometimes even surgical latex gloves are too thick, especially when I'm feeling for breaks in something the size of a toothpick.
I can usually tell by the behaviour of a bat if I'll need gloves or not. Until now broadnoses have been little cuties, but the actions of this last one made me suspicious from the start - hence the thick gloves. Which he bit through anyway. Bugger.
Had all my blood taken today. Test results in a week. Still no word from CDL about the bat.
I picked up a Gould's Wattled Bat today. He'd been locked in a shed over the weekend and is a little thirsty and thin. I'll feed him for a few days and let him go.
I think I'll call him Jack.
I've known about Jack for 3 days. At first the lady was worried that the sun will get him, but she could "open a door to hide him." Which was ok. I thought he'd fly off into the night as bats do.
Next day he was still on the wall but in a different place. This also is not a problem. I thought he'd chosen that wall as His Place and was settling in. I told the lady as much, and left her to it confident the bat would be fine.
It wasn't until the third day that she told me the wall was actually an internal wall of a shed that was locked up every night. No wonder Jack was hanging around - he couldn't get out!
By the time I rescued him he'd lost a lot of weight, tipping the scales at 10g instead of the more normal 15g. So he's in for a week of R&R
. Last night I fed him 8 meal worms but he was much nore interested in drinking water from the syringe. Tonight I expect he'll eat more. I want to see a fat bat by this time next week, then he'll be ready to face the winter.
Jack ate 20 worms tonight. He took most of them straight out of the dish. Admittedly I had to arrange the worms in the dish to present the wet end so that they were easy to get, and I had to hold the dish near his mouth, but he took them on his own. That's a start.
Jack the Bat
Jack has put on a lot of weight over the last week. He's ready to be released. Early tonight I placed a big pile of worms in the tent, and when I was happy he was munching away I hung the tent outside with the zipper opened. I'll check it tomorrow, but I expect he'll be gone.
I was right. He's gone.
Why is it that most of the LJ users who list bats as an interest are almost exclusively angsty teens, depression worshippers, wannabe vampires and Goths?
They seem to have this idea of bats as creatures-of-the-night, shadows-in-the-dark, sort of thing. That also applies to wombats and sugar gliders. Why do you never hear "I am the dreaded phascogale that stalks the night! FEAR ME!" or "BEHOLD! I am the yellow-footed antechinus that stalks the night!!" or something. No, it's always the leathery wing thing and horrible page colours.
You want real evil, walk into the territory of a willy wagtail. Watch him expand those eyebrows at you and swear like Tony Soprano. "Twitter twitter twitter twitter twitter twitter twitter twitter twitter !" he'll shout. Or, for bastard evil, look at magpies. Yes, look at them. Watch them very carefully or you'll end up in hospital with a hole in your skull. For total, utter bastard evil, Cassowarys, which will put you in hospital where you can tell the doctor "Buggered if I know what happened! I was walking through the rain foret minding my own business and the next moment I'm having seven shades of crap kicked out of me" while he sews your intestines back into place.
Bats have wings, so they're evil. Evil I tell you! EEEEEEEEVIL! Those of us who actually know bats invariably think they're cute, and go to pieces when we see pups. Angsty teens, depression worshippers, wannabe vampires and Goths make it hard to search for people who actually know and like bats or are lucky enough to have colonies living in their roofs.
I am The Cassowary that stalks the night of New Orleans, looking for victims to sate my mindless rage.
I don't know why I said that.
I just rescued a female freetail. She was in some firewood and got tossed around, and in her tumbling something tore a strip of skin and fur from her right leg, from her thigh to her ankle. It's very raw and painful. She can still use the leg but she doesn't want to and I don't blame her. I can't release her until it warms up in early august so it looks like I have a long-term resident.
The vet gave me some ointment to rub on. I hope it helps.
I think I'll name her "Kay." She weighs 9 grams.
Little Kaye scarfed down 6 meal worms last night. It's a start, but she should be eating more. I'm putting the ointment on her leg twice a day but she's licked it off by the time I get her out the next time. Her grooming seems to include licking all the area around her cut.
I'm very carefully grabbing her foot and stretching her leg out, too. That should stop adhesians and keep it mobile.
Kaye ate 14 worms tonight and her gashed leg looks a lot better. She's still a bit reluctant to use it for climbing, but she does use it to hang on. Which is good news.
The gash on Kaye's leg has scabbed up and is no longer the open, raw wound it used to be. I noticed last night that all the fur around it was dry, which tells me she is no longer constantly licking the injury. And she's put on weight. I moved her from the dark pillowcase and into a tent where she'll have more room to stretch and groom. It's still too cold to release her but I don't want to do that until her leg is better. Soon I'll lock us in a room so she can get some flying practice in.
Last night I gave Kaye her first feed in 3 nights. The cold temperatures here has knocked her right out. She hardly moves for days at a time and it's hard to rouse her enough to start eating.
Last night I moved the tent into the main room of the house so she could warm up. It took almost 2 hours to get her internal heating going, but eventually she was warm to the touch and ready to scarf down 14 worms. That should get her though a few more days. I gently grabbed her foot and carefully stretched her leg back to check on the progress of the healing cut. It's gone! She has a long like of scar-tissue and some lumpy scbas, but the swellingand open wound have gone.
I wondered if her wings were okay because I hadn't heard her flapping in the tent (I blame torpor for that) and she hadn't attempted flying in the room when I'd tried to let her go.
I put her on the flace of a piece of flat cardboard, held it high, and pulled it down. The sudden loss of wight made her spread her wings. I tried it again, only faster. She lifted 2cm off the cardboard and flapped in the sudden zero-G. I slowed the descent and she bumped onto the card. Okay, her wings work.
About 1 am I could hear her flapping around the tent, bouncing from one side to the other. Now I know her wings work when she's not being lazy.
Little Kaye decided it was time to go, so last night she went. Her gashed leg has healed nicely into a row of lumpy scars that are gradually fading.
It's been warm here for at least two weeks, so I'd been opening the door of the bat tent and hanging it outside. Every morning the meal worms were gone, but the bat wasn't. I was begining to worry that she'd become institutionalised and would never leave.
This morning the worms were gone, and so was Kaye. I'll leave the tent hanging for a few more days and put fresh meal worms inside Just In Case, but they never come back.
I rescued a little red flying-fox today. For once I couldn't see any broken bones, and there appeared to be nothing wrong with him. Even so, he was on the ground. I took him out to the zoovets for x-rays.
So while I'm waiting for them to let me know the results, I ( played with Terragen. )
The zoovets told me they had the euthanase the little red flying-fox. He had a serious spinal injury. I was sort of expecting that so it didn't come as a shock to hear it from the vet.
I just picked up a bat I have the euthanase. Bugger.
On the good side, I was also handed a bat I don't have to euthanase. She is a little thin but is eating mealworms. A week or R&R
for her and she'll be right.
I've created a new mealworm farm using a base made of high protein insectivore mix, bran, stale bread and old powdered milk. The old mealworm farm uses bran only as a base. I hope to raise some ExtremeMealworms full of batty goodness.
Don't hold a hungry bat in the hand that has worm guts on the fingers, or blood will be spilled
I have just picked up a young female little red flying fox with a broken wing. Looks like the Black Bat will be visiting tonight.
I couldn't do it. I had to take the flying fox out to the zoovets. Tim looked at the wing, shook his head and said "There's only one result here."
They gassed her to sleep, then Jane injected the lethobarb. It took the bat about 10 seconds to die.
I wonder if they'll give me a mask like that for my EU duties. It's better then the old toilet roll with a wad of tissue paper in one end.
This afternoon Duncan The Vet handed me a pillow case containing 8 grams of growling anger. She is a broadnosed bat. I can't see anything wrong with her, but she had some mites in her fur that you see on bats who aren't well enough to groom properly. I don't think she's been feeding herself properly judging by the way she scarfed down a dozen meal worms.
And so Lucretia enters my life.
I have no idea what is wrong with her. Tonight she ate 12 meal worms (these were the Extreme Mealworms I've been keeping) then she did some warm-up stretches in my hand. I locked us in the spare room and let her fly around for a while.
When I got her she was a little thin and had some mites in her fur, but now she's fat and is grooming properly. I have no idea what was wrong with her but it appears to be past. I'll have to hand her over to T&E
Bat Carers while I'm in Wagga. They both work for National Parks and have had their rabies shots so I have no concerns with handing Lucretia over to them. I trust them enough to know that if she is releasable, they'll release her. Getting her out of care is pretty important now. We're coming up to winter and if Lucretia isn't back in the wild soon she'll have to stay in care all winter.
I'd rather not keep her that long, no matter how cute she is.
I've handed Lucretia over to T&E
for care while I go to Wagga. the next two night look like they'll be warm (15C+) and that's a good time for her to be released. I trust T will let her go if he feels she is ready. I think she is ready for release and would be letting her go tonight. I expect her to be gone when I return on Saturday.
She turned out to be a sweet little thing after she got over the shock of being caught and bagged. I could keep her.
Lucretia was released into the wild on Thursday night, while I was in Wagga. Terry said he fed her, then he and Liz made her fly along their hallway a few times. They couldn't see anything wrong with her so they let her go.
The lady on the phone was telling me a depressingly common story. We brought in some firewod, and when we split open a log there were two bats inside," she said. "I think one has a broken wing."
Wellington is 40km east of town and if it wasn't for the lack of size, harbour, airport, and places of interest it would be exactly like Wellington NZ, only less interesting. I found the house, knocked on the door and was greeted by a happy kelpie barking at me. My doorbell sounds exactly the same, I thought. The lady asked if I was there for the bats, and handed me an old gardening glove. Looking at me from the wrist was a freetailed bat, and I could see immediately her left wing was broken. There was no sign of the other, but the little finger was full of something small and growly.
"Do you want this glove?" I asked. The lady said no so I stuffed it into my bat bag and tied the end.
By the time I arrived back in Dubbo the freetail had left the glove and was climbing around the bag. The little finger was still growly so I put it in a tent and hoped the occupant would climb out while I euthanased the injured bat. After doing The Deed I checked the tent, but it still only contained a glove that growled at me. Time for the trusty Swiss Army Knife.
Half an hour later I was holding a peeved little forest bat. Now there's a thing. You don't get different species roosting together. I can only guess that the bats must have come out of different logs, and since they were both female I have to wonder what happened to the rest of their maternity colonies.
M weighed 4 grams and was very thin. She is young, probably born last year, and I don't think she did enough pre-winter hunting. She would certainly die if she was still in the wild. Last night and tonight she ate the guts of 6 meal worms, and is looking a lot fatter already. I hope she'll start eating whole worms soon.
The little bat still spends a lot of time resting. Understandable, really, since she should be hibernating at this time of year. She's looking fat once more and has put on a whole gram of weight. 5 grams! whoa.
What is even better is that she is self feeding now, so all I have to do is fill the dish with meal worm segments and she eats when she feels like it. My only contact with her is the occaional weighing session. She doesn't like those at all and complains loudly to the management about the lack of respect shown by the employees.
Now that night time temperatures have hit below 0C I can't release her. This means she'll be in long term care until mid August at least. Maybe the staff will show a little respect by then.
Last night I was woken at 2am by Maddie bouncing off the walls of the tent and growling. She'd woken from hibernation to do a little opportunistic feeding, and there was no feed. I climbed from my nice warm bed and looked through the mesh. She was flapping from one side to the other, then plopping onto the empty dish and biting at the edges before growling in frustration. I had to get her some meal worms but the bucket is outside.
Den in his jammies. 2am. Outside. Middle of winter.
I caught a dozen meal worms in the dark by trawling my figers through the bran and grabbing any wriggling tubular things I could feel, but at 2am in the middle of winter I stopped feeling anything after a while. I went back into my room, which oddly enough felt warm now, and piled the dead worms into the dish.
Maddie growled at me then fell head-first into the worm pile. I went to sleep to the sounds of happy crunching. This morning Maddie was hanging from the roof, asleep and considerably fatter.
Maddie has become amazingly wild. Usually the bats maintain a level of accepting grumpyness where they are happy to see me, or rather the food, but growl and grumble while they crawl around my hand snuffling for food.
Maddie hunches up in whatever corner she is roosting in and growls. If my fingers get too close, she leaps at them and tries to bite. I have to wear latex gloves near her. To help a bat find the food I usually hunt it by touching it on the bum so they move forward. With Maddie I point at her face and she leaps at my finger. We continue like this until she has frog-hopped to the food.
She's ready to go, but the nights are still too cool. When we start seeing +10C night temperatures I'll hang the tent outside and leave it open.
A call from "Fritz at Bluescope" told me he'd found a baby bat in the office, so he'd put it in a box for me. When I arrived I was handed a printer paper box, the sort that holds 5 reams of paper. I opened it and saw a tiny brown fuzzy thing huddled in a corner. He was another adult little forest bat.
"Nick" is not as bitey as Maddie, but he is much more vocal. He'll quiet down a little with more handling, but at the moment he's peeved at being handled, weighed, the general unfairness of it all and I'm In A Bag, Dammit! I'll set up a tent for him later.
He weighs 4 grams which is a little on the light side. I'll feed him up and let him go with Maddie. At the moment it looks like the end of this week is a tentative Release Night.
Nick's feeding time went well. His protests changed from "HATE YOU! I bite you hard! YOU DIE! KILL! KILL! KILL!" at the start to "You were somewhat tardy bringing that last meal worm to me. I shall complain to the management," at the end. He will be a lot nicer bat to handle than Maddie is. He settled right in to being handled, and felt comfortable enough to wipe his face on my hand between worms. Afterward he did a few wing stretches then went to sleep.
Nick is self-feeding now so I don't have to handle him. He's in the second bat tent, and I hear him talking to Maddie at night. It's communication, anyway. They hang onto the gauze panels and look at each other while squeaking and growling, but I can't tell if they're saying "Hey baby!" or "BACK OFF!" They're both the same age and size. I suspect this is their first winter and they wouldn't have made it without intervention.
Nick is a little sweetie. He buzzes happily when I hold him and he snuffles in my hand looking for worms.
Maddie doesn't. I won't handle her without gloves.
Bat O was found by a bunch of school kids at a nearby primary school. They were lucky they weren't bitten. O is large and quite aggressive, but her teeth aren't as needle sharp as the smaller bats. "O" is a Greater Long-eared Bat, the first I've seen. She weighs 12 grams and has a wingspan of 30cm. She is a giant compared to Maddie and Nick, who weigh 4 grams and only reach 15cm tip to tip.
The Big O.
There is nothing wrong with her so I'll let her go tonight, and if it's as warm as last night I'll let Nick and Maddie go too. It's quite possible she has a pup in a roost somewhere, so it's vitally important Big O goes as soon as possible.
I'll see if I can get photos, but she's pretty wriggly and hard to hold safely. Luckily she's large enough to have a scruff-of-the-neck.
I am batless!
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