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Helping an Injured Bat

September 23, 2011

This adorable fellow is a velvity free-tail bat, also called Pallas mastiff or Cuban house bat (Molassas Molossus.) But I call him “Batiatus.”

Of all my blog posts, the most viewed and commented-upon is Raising a Wild Rat, about a palm/fruit rat named Spartacus. So, let me tell you about a velvety free-tail bat named Batiatus. (Yes, I love the cable show Spartacus on STARZ.)

Last year, Batiatus came into the Key West Wildlife Center with a torn-up wing. He needed a quiet place to heal and night feedings, so the Director gave me permission to take him home. I put him in a dark cage and syringed him water and tweezer-fed him mealworms every night until his injuries healed. His wing turned out to be permanently damaged–bummer! Luckily, he was offered a permanent home by Cyndi and George Marks of the Florida Bat Conservancy, who take him to classrooms and lectures. Batiatus shows people his little pug-face and chomps down some mealworms and every one sees that bats are kind of cute and not vicious.  

I recently got to see Batiatus again when the Mark’s visited Key West to give a presentation to Florida Keys Audubon. I wrote about that lecture and all the reasons bats are fascinating (only mammal that flies, super-echolocation, etc.) on the Audubon blog post called Florida Bats. I was glad to see Batiatus looking fuzzy and fat and I loved seeing him act as an ambassador for his species.

I always wore gardening gloves to handle Batiatus, though he never tried to bite me. Bats are nocturnal, so sometimes I’d have to wake him up to feed him. He would vibrate in my palm, shaking blood into all his tiny organs and muscles to raise his temperature and end his torpor. Is it strange that I felt lucky to be there with him during such a vulnerable, private moment?

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