Thursday, 20 August 2009

Bangkok bat

BCT’s global reach continues to grow. Our Helpline Supervisor, Gill Sanders(right), recently received an email from someone in Bangkok who needed advice about a bat they had rescued – and there is the happy ending!

I received a call from a woman called Chompoonuj who had found a bat on a ground in her building in Bangkok, Thailand.

As there was no rehabilitation centre nearby that she knew of and the vet was about 10 km away (and even then she felt the vet wouldn’t have been a bat expert), she emailed the BCT helpline.

When I spoke with her she explained that she had placed the bat into her shoe box, with a shallow dish of water combined with 10% carrot juice, a ripe banana and a piece of cloth at a corner. I asked her to put some gloves on and check it for injuries. She did this and reported no physical injuries, although she said it did seem to be frightened; which is not unusual.

Both wings spread out fine but only one at a time and there was a piece of dried fruit (half an inch) hanging on its mouth which she pulled out. The bat measured about two and a half inches long with a tail about one inch and a furry body but a hairless face.

I emailed her to let her know that what she was doing seemed in line with the advice we give out for short-term caring but from her description I couldn’t identify which species of bat it was. If it was eating fruit then my first instinct was to think it was a fruit bat but as they are larger than the description then this didn’t seem a possibility. I did, however, suggest that if it wasn’t eating the dried fruit then she should try to feed it with very small amounts of wet cat or dog food. And, after this, if the bat appeared healthy and active, then she should try to release it at dusk, as close as possible to where she found it.

I also advised that a small number of bats carry a rabies virus, so if she should continue to handle it always wear gloves, to make sure you she is not bitten or scratched.

Luckily I heard back from Chompoonuj later that day to tell me the good news. After 10pm, she had turned all the lights off and waited for the bat to emerge. Within five minutes, after complete darkness, the little bat became instantly active and climbed from the box toward the window edge....about a foot (it was found on the eight floor of their building, so we tried to release it from the next closest window) At the edge of the window it stopped, spread its wings, and into the night.

Chompoonuj said it was a beautiful sight to watch and was very grateful for all my help with the little fellow.