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CROW goes out on a wing to treat bats

By Staff | Nov 5, 2009

It’s a bird.

It’s a plane.

It’s a bat.

Bat?

The often maligned denizen of the night is given first rate status along with the other wildlife patients treated at CROW.

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Inc. (CROW) staff treat between 20 and 30 bats a year, said Dr. PJ Deitschel, Clinic Director and Staff Veterinarian for the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Inc. (CROW).

The winged mammals aid the environment with their insect diet. They eat thousands of mosquitoes, Deitschel said. She said some local folks build bat houses to attract them to their yards.

Bats are night creatures that use echolocation to find food and get about.

Though bats are quite self-sufficient they are vulnerable if they get knocked out of trees where they often live. Tree trimming and storms are main contributors to fallen bats.

And now that snowbirds and visitors are returning to the islands, greater vigilance will be needed to ensure the protection of wildlife. Most injuries to wildlife are caused by human interaction, Deitschel said.

Bats, once on the ground are vulnerable to becoming cold, wet or sick since they have a hard time flying off the ground, Deitschel said.

When bats are found on the ground they need help and should be brought to the CROW clinic. At the clinic staff will help them get rehabilitated and then they will set them free back in their bat world.

But as urgent as it is to get downed bats assistance, Deitschel implores the community to use safe measures in rescuing a bat.

“You do not want to handle a bat with bare hands,” she said.

Since many local bats are tiny, weighing about 30 grams, a person might not even realize they were bitten. If bats are carrying the rabies virus, a person could unknowingly contract it.

Though bats don’t attack any more than any other animal, if they feel threatened they could sense the need to defend themselves.

Deitschel recommends would-be rescuers call CROW for help in reference to an injured bat. However, if someone is going to rescue a bat, she said sturdy gloves need to be used or an inanimate object such as a shovel to gently scoop the critter up.

The container the bat is placed should have a tight lid and holes for air. A towel or something the bat can grab onto should be put on the bottom of the basket.

But to help keep more bats from becoming wildlife patients, Deitschel suggests that people check out their trees for life before trimming them.