Every bat we care for has a story. Most are mundane, some are funny, some are distressing but all further our knowledge of bats and their care. Here are just few of their stories.
SHOCK: Shock is a first year Big Brown Bat that was born in captivity. His story starts on March 14, 2003 when his mother (Langford), during an early spring warm up, was caught in a storm door. The women that found her, actually heard her scream, brought her to me within the hour. The humorous in her left wing had been smashed. After initial treatment for shock and a little bleeding Langford was fed and held overnight. She was taken to the vet where an attempt was made to set and stabilize the wing. She returned to a small individual cage where she seemed to do well. Even with the secured wing she moved about quite well. About 3 weeks after treatment, the adhesive released and it was evident that the bone had not healed properly. However she still moved about.
On May 5, Langford produced twins. However, possibly because of her damaged wing, one of the babies was dead. The other stuck close to her and grew well. (A week later another bat (Curely) produced a baby, for us it was Shock and Awe). Four weeks after birth, during cage cleaning, Shock took his first flight. He immediately returned to his mother and hid! After this we gave him a few opportunities to fly indoors. By now the weather had warmed a little and we flew bats nightly in a small flight pen. Shock did well with this.
Knowing we would need to release Shock without his mother, we placed Shock and Langford in with Curly and Awe. On June 23, after several weeks of cohabitation and flight training, we placed Curly, Shock and Awe in a bat box in our barn next to a nursery colony. By evening they had moved over to join the colony. We released several more bats in the barn, as well as another mother and baby, during the following weeks.
Exactly two months after Shock's release, he returned to us. We had had several nights of bad storms and had lost the top out of a tree in our yard, which had several hollow spots. We had just gone into the yard when a bat "flew" or fell past me and landed next to our dog, about ten feet from the window to the room where the bats are kept. He acted wild and I scooped him up in my T-shirt.
Inside he started to calm down and I examined him. Noting that he was "light" I offered him some food and mealworms. These he immediately excepted, suggesting that he was used to hand feeding. He soon calmed down and we noted that his fur was the same color and texture as Langford. We deduced that this was Shock. We decided to bring him back to his mother. We had isolated Langford because of her growing aggressive behavior toward other bats, possibly because she had "lost" her baby or her broken wing was agitating her. As he approached her cage Shock became excited and when placed inside immediately ran to her. Unfortunately, she immediately attacked him and I had to pull them apart. Shock immediately ran up my sleeve and sat on my shoulder audibly whimpering and heaving like a small child. After holding him for a while he calmed down and I held him until bedtime. We kept him in isolation for a few days and then placed him with three babies, two orphans and one "runt" born in captivity. After bringing his weight and "health" back up we tried flight exercises in the flight pen. Shock didn't or wouldn't fly well. But, while he could run up and down the sides of the flight pen, his flights always landed on the floor. We tried flight training with the babies and he would occasionally fly/glide to the floor. He didn't inspire any flying skills in the babies who preferred to skitter across the table, floor, cage walls, arms, and heads.
I built a new indoor cage with a divider so that all bats, wild and babies would be close to each other. (Perhaps inspire some wildness). I inadvertently left a gap at the top of the divider between the babies and wild bats. Within days, Shock had scaled the divider and was residing with the "wild" bats. Also the wild bats had passed over the barrier but decided to return to their own side after one day with the babies. Territorial squabbling had broken out between Shock and the male baby. Shock was moved back with the "wild" bats and the gap was repaired. Shock now takes turns hanging with each of the wild bats. There appears to be no aggressiveness amongst them. However there is a lot of wing fluttering or drumming by Shock and the other male baby. None of the other bats participate in this activity. The babies are still squabbling.
Shock over wintered successfully. He demonstrated his flying ability in the new fight cage and was released in our back yard. He flew fast and high, darting around the trees in pursuit of a "wild" meal. We really miss him.
From our small group of injured residents, we were able to exercise and release this year only those with disabling sprains, as well as Eve (who came to us the night before Christmas) with a nickel-sized hole in her wing that finally healed by late summer. The others, with injuries and breaks too severe for successful release, remain with us today, living in smaller, cozier tents. Their personalities are so different, and can change daily from "Grouchy City" to "Wappes actually smiled at me today!" Petey, a sweet female with a crushed ankle, and thus a "useless" foot, has learned to position that leg so that those uncontrollable claws stick securely into the netting. She has learned to move around the cage, and anchors those claws with enough stability to groom herself to velvet! She waits each night at the door of her tent for a cuddle from Bob. The injured males are a little more forward Big Brown Wappes greets Bob with a loud, teethe chatter, only a jealous attempt for recognition (he gets a rub), since he knows that Larry, his tiny, cute Little Brown tent-mate, in competition, will always stick his unresistably friendly face from behind the curtain for his nightly mealworm treat.