This is the story of little Burt the Bat and a story I am ashamed to tell .. but here goes anyway.
Let’s start at the beginning. At our farm we are lucky enough to have a colony of Pipistrelle bats and we are extremely fond of our bats.
Unfortunately sickness in the colony drastically decreased their number a couple of years ago but we are doing all we can to help the colony recover, ensuring they have well sited bat boxes and I’m pleased to report that they seem to be doing quite well this year.
Needless to say, on a farm we have a lot of mice and rats so cats are a must but unfortunately the cats occasionally get hold of a bat.
My black cat, Seti, is a born hunter so while his prey remains alive he will play with it but once it’s dead he gets bored. This is how, 5 days ago, I knew the bat I found on my kitchen rug was dead .. because Seti had got bored and gone off to terrorise something else, possibly a cow.
I picked the poor little bat corpse up and threw it in the kitchen pedal bin and cursed the cat as he slunk past.
Two nights ago I went to throw something in the pedal bin and as soon as I opened the lid the tiny bat plopped onto the floor .. it had been in there for 3 DAYS.
It was a mad dash to pick it up before my two cats, who were just feet away, managed to grab it.
The poor little bat had been in the bin for 3 whole days with all sorts of rubbish being thrown on top of it. Looking at the bat it was obvious it couldn’t survive for much longer, it was coated in fresh blood (or so I thought) from head to feet and had a large hole in it’s wing membrane. As you can see from the image above, a Pipstrelle bat should be quite hairy and fluffy looking .. not so little Burt, he looked totally slicked down, like a bird in an oil spill.
Holding little Burt, as I then named him, in one hand I soaked a piece of kitchen towel in water and was amazed when Burt was strong enough to lick some water off the paper towel.
I then went leaping around my flat, still cradling the tiny bat, while I found a small wooden box, old piece of towel and a drawing pin to make somewhere safe for him to hang.
The heat from my hands began to warm him up and boy did he start wriggling and climbing all over me. How he had such strength after 3 days in a bin with heavy rubbish thrown on top I have no idea.
Once I got him gripped onto the towel I tried to very carefully wash some of the blood away .. gosh he looked red raw all over, the poor little bat must have been in so much pain.
I eventually went to bed and put the box on my bedside table with a heavy book on top to stop the cats getting curious.
At 6 am the thud from the falling book woke me up and as Seti ran away with the bat in his mouth I zoomed, in my birthday suit, through the flat and rugby tackled the cat on the bottom step, just before the catflap.
He dropped the bat on the floor .. I have never been so tempted to kick a cat in my life but he was only doing what nature tells him to do (the little sod).
After his long ordeal little Burt was finally dead, his tiny bat body stiff and freezing cold.
Although, he’d got me with the playing dead routine once before so I was going to hang onto him for an hour just to make sure.
As I got dressed and made a cup of tea, still hanging onto this tiny corpse, there was not a movement or sign of life.
It was no surprise, the bat was still totally covered in oozing blood, nothing could survive that much damage … hang on, that’s very sweet smelling blood.
Realisation slowly dawned on me .. four days ago I had a spring clean of my fridge and threw out everything I was unlikely to eat, like the last jar of last years blackcurrant jelly.
Yep, I had poured over half a large jar of blackcurrant jelly into the pedal bin and Burt the bat had been covered in it .. it may be what kept him alive.
Over 20 minutes later I moved the bat from one hand to the other and thought I saw a leg movement. I tried moving him around but nothing, must have been my imagination.
Another 5 minutes later and the little trooper started slowly crawling around. Within 10 minutes he was back to the old Burt, trying to climb into my hair.
At 9 am I called the National Bat Helpline who said they would contact someone in my local area. When my local area Bat volunteer called me I had to confess, with a very red face, about Burt’s ordeal with the bin and the jelly.
Burt’s adventures were not yet over.
I was informed a bat volunteer would come to get Burt at lunchtime, so to keep him safe we put the little bat in his wooden box in my father’s office in the main farmhouse and closed the door. My cat is a sneaky little sod but he can’t walk through walls or doors yet.
I got a call from the bat volunteer saying he was 5 minutes away, so off I went to get Burt … who wasn’t in his box.
He also wasn’t behind the curtains, bookshelves, computer or dog bed. He wasn’t under the bookshelves, under the rug or the table.
I was starting to panic, the bat man was going to arrive any moment and I would have to admit that after everything Burt had been through I had finally lost him!!
I finally pulled out some old pictures from behind a metal filing cabinet and the little bat plopped onto the floor, covered in cobwebs, with lots of yellow fluff stuck to the jam he was coated in.
I am delighted to report that the bat expert thinks, despite my best efforts to kill the little chap, that little Burt’s wing will repair in time, possibly take months though, and then Burt will be returned to our colony if he survives but he’s a hardly little bugger so I think Burt the bat will be back.
The picture I used on this post is taken from Tees Valley Biodiversity Partnership website. Scoot on over if you haven’t visited their site, it’s got some great information on biodiversity and what you can do to help wildlife.
If you find an injured bat please call the National Bat Helpline on . I shall do a post this week with some bat information which will help you out if you find an injured or sick bat.