It's all about Bats

It's all about Bats

We received a call last week from one of our tenants to say they had a bat in their home and asking us if we could help. The bat was behind a curtain having possibly following an insect into their home. Joe, our Community and Business Manager, went over to the house to assist our tenant and the bemused bat was successfully caught in a net. He then called up the Lincolnshire Bat group to get advice on what we should do and they came out quickly to rescue it.

The bat who had managed to
enter one of tenant’s homes

The bat was a found to
be a pipistrelle

On initial examination our pipistrelle bat, who upon further inspection was a female bat, looked fine but Viv Booth, who is a licenced bat handler, and her husband, took the pipistrelle away and kept an eye on her for a few hours. They fed her on mealworms, which Viv rips the heads off the mealworms and squeezes out the insides for the bats to enjoy. Following this juicy meal, they weighed her. She weighed in at over 5 grams, so Viv was happy that she was doing well and could be released. Viv didn’t think she would have any problem finding her way back to her roost and indeed she seemed pleased to fly off once back on the Estate.

Viv was a mine of information and truly is a complete bat expert. She has been involved with bats for over 40 years, is a licenced bat handler and as such had been injected against rabies. She invited us to her home to see how she cared for injured bats. Viv gets approximately a phone call every week asking for assistance with a bat found in distress. She often has to drive a long way to go and rescue them. There are two flying areas for the recovering bats: the preliminary area is where bats are struggling to get off the ground and the secondary area is an outdoor run where bats are much more independent.  Viv alternates flying the lady bats with the gentlemen bats. It is not that they fall out, it’s just an easy to sort out into groups.

A roost box and training
equipment at the bat home

Viv Booth in her outdoor
run for the bats she looks after

The bats have to be good fliers before they are allowed to leave as they are subject to predators in the form of cats and large birds. They also have to catch their food. Viv sometimes has to retrain them to do this as during recuperation they get very reliant on her as a provider of food.  She has to re-educate them and is currently experimenting breeding fruit flies to entice them back into independently catching their own meals. Feeding is a big issue as many of the bats Viv treats are suffering from starvation. Sometimes she cares for them over their hibernation period during which time they still need to eat.

Bats are mammals and so feed their young milk. Viv feeds rescued baby bats puppy milk to encourage them to grow and put on weight. Mummy bats carry babies (usually born singularly but sometimes as twins) under their wing.  The young bats start to fly when they are 5 or 6 weeks old. Bats can live for ten to twelve years.  There are 18 varieties of bat in Britain and they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.