My first program in a month today. I thought I might have lost my touch, but as it turns out, I am as charismatic as ever.
RAPTOR's barn is host to what used to be a large colony of Little Brown Bats (as far as I know...I don't think we could be lucky enough to have an endangered species like the Indiana Bat.
The "Bat Lady" (for the life of me, I can't remember her name!) from the Cincinnati Museum Center came out a few weeks ago and looked at our bats and didn't see any signs of what is being called "White nose fungus". The first I heard of this fungus was over at Julie's blog.
From the USFWS:
White-nose syndrome was first detected at caves and mines in New York last winter, where it is believed to be associated with the deaths of approximately 8,000 to 11,000 bats. This winter, WNS has again been found at the previously affected sites, and has spread to additional sites in New York as well as sites in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Approximately 400,000 to 500,000 bats hibernate at affected sites.
It's a pretty regular occurance that a baby is found at the base of the stairs going to the loft, or other places where they can drop through holes to the hallway between the cages.
I found one today just outside the cage that holds the program Great Horned Owl. A few inches to the left and the baby would have been owl kibbles.
I have read that babies will drop out of the colony if they are sickly. But I couldn't just leave it there. I picked it up (with gloved hands, everyone) and took a few photos:
Poor little mite had cobwebs on his face. I gently pulled them off.
The bones on its shoulders and back were painful to look at. It's not that bats are especially meaty in the first place, but I wondered how long it had been since it nursed.
It just barely has some fur on its little backside. Look at those sharp shoulder blades.
Poor little wuzzer.
It was a sweet moment, actually. Now, I was once a terrified freak when it came to bats. I had one brush my face when I was 19 and impressionable. But holding this fragile little thing, a member of the only mammal family that can fly....well, it was cool.
But this tiny dude or dude-ette needed its Mama. Matt, one of our wonderfully dedicated renters at RAPTOR, said that he sees 2 or 3 a day sometimes, fallen out of the loft. He takes them back up and a mother bat will go over to the baby and start to care for it. I didn't really want to go up there (fresh bat guano and all that) so Matt did it for me. A damn fine person, that guy.