Monday, June 8, 2015

What to do when you find a bat in your yard (Hint: Don't panic!)

cats under car

Beorn and Jasper spend hot days like today sleeping underneath my car. They may look lazy, but make no mistake: They'll shoot right out of that sleepy spot if they see something that looks small, helpless and edible.

Like a bat.

That's just what happened this morning. As my husband was watering the lawn this morning, he bent down to pick up what looked like a large leaf. Just before he touched it, that leaf hissed. Yup, he was dealing with a downed bat, and I went into research mode.

Apparently, Oregon has 15 different species of bats, and from what I can tell from looking at this description, we were dealing with a California myotis bat. These guys are listed as aerobatic flyers, and this particular bat was lying about a foot away from our front picture window. It's possible that he hit that window mid-flight, got stunned and was too weak to fly away.

Now, I consider myself a bat lover. The average bat can mow down a colony of mosquitoes, which cause all sorts of nastiness in my yard, and they emit the most amazing series of chirps that I love to listen to in the evenings. It's like having a colony of birds that only sing at night. What could be better?

So I was motivated to help this little guy. And here's what we did.

First, we had to get this bat up off the ground. Again, we have outdoor cats that would love to snack on a live creature like this, and about 5 to 10 percent of bats in this area test positive for rabies, per the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. If I left that bat on the ground, he might not survive the encounter, and my cats might be sickened, too.

So step one involved a towel, a bucket and heavy gloves. We covered the bat with the towel, and used gloves to pop the bat into the bucket, towel and all. We then put him on the rain barrel while we figured out step two.

downed bat

Originally, I thought we'd transport the bat to a local wildlife rehabilitation center for further treatment. But I noticed that our bat was pretty darn active. Within a minute or two, he was out of that towel and exploring his surroundings.

I'm not a wildlife rehabilitator myself, so it's illegal for me to confine a bat, even if I'm trying to nurse it back to health. But I really wondered if this guy had some sort of temporary mishap he'd recover from, since he seemed to be healing so very quickly.

So while I waited for the rehabilitation center to open, I popped this bucket, with the bat and the towel, into a nearby tree. I figured that the bat might just crawl away if he felt well enough to do so, and if he didn't, I'd take him in for care.

Down bat in yard

Within about an hour, the bat was no where to be seen. I didn't see blood on the towel or the bucket, so I can safely assume he made it out on his own horsepower. But I'm going to scour the area tonight, just to make sure that he doesn't go down on the job again.

If you've found a bat in your yard, I recommend taking a peek at this page from Bat World. It's here that I found the ideas about the towel and the bucket. Good stuff.

And if you don't have bats in your yard and want some, consider installing a bat box, like this one: Audubon Bat Shelter Model NABAT. I have a model just like this in my backyard, and it's been a great way to entice these signing creatures to enter my yard.

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1 comment:

  1. What a cute little bat. I'm a big fan of bats for the same reason. Glad he was able to fly away on his own.