The warm winds of spring have awakened the birds … and a bat
It’s funny how one gloriously, disproportionately warm day in mid-March makes us shed our winter garb and celebrate the idea of not wearing a heavy winter coat, hat and gloves again for another seven months – only to wake up the next day to freezing temperatures. We’re not the only ones fooled into thinking Mother Nature’s Spring Previews are the real deal. A fantastically warm day last month not only beckoned coat-free, sandal-clad New Yorkers to the street, it woke up a little bat named Ari.
Ari came to The Wild Bird Fund at the end of last month after being picked up by Wild Bird Fund volunteer Arina. He was found lying on the ground outside her building during March’s final cold snap. We suspect that he came out of hibernation early due to the month’s balmier days, but then the cold temperatures sent him into torpor.
Ari is an Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis) who lives year round in trees and feasts on insects. He has dense red fur with white tips, and a furred tail membrane that he can curl up around his body like a blanket. He really is a sight to behold: He has tiny, glossy, pin-point black eyes, conical ears that look like high-tech devices, a turned-up nose, and the tiniest little pointy teeth (don’t let the size of the teeth fool you, this guy is a meal worm-eating machine!). Watching him fly is a treat – he flies across the room and flips as he nears a wall like a swimmer doing laps, not touching the wall until he decides to land.
Because the weather is still so inconsistent, Ari will stay with The Wild Bird Fund until mid-April. He spends his days in his own securely closed, darkened, tree leaf-decorated habitat, hanging from a drape, noshing on meal worms, and taking short flights.
What To Do if You Find a Bat
First of all: Never, ever handle a bat with bare hands. Bats are a rabies vector species. If you are bitten by a bat, or if bat saliva gets in your nose, eyes or mouth, seek medical attention immediately.
If a bat is found in a sleeping person’s room, contact a medical professional.
If the bat is indoors
- Wait until it is motionless, then carefully approach the bat wearing thick gloves. Use a towel to gather the bat, paying careful attention to prevent injury to its toes or thumbs.
- Put the bat in a secure container before getting it help. Bats are escape artists able to slip through minute openings.
- If the bat seems to be injured, call The Wild Bird Fund or other licensed wildlife rehabilitator for assistance. If the bat is simply in the wrong place (inside your home, for example), wait until nightfall to release it.
- Never try to rehabilitate a bat on your own. Bats should only be treated by trained animal healthcare professionals (for your safety and that of the bat).
For more information on what to do if you’ve found a bat, please visit Bat World Sanctuary.