Over 1,600 frozen bats were nursed back to health in an attic by a Texas wildlife rehabilitator after many fell from their roosts during Houston’s freezing temperatures last week.
The Houston Humane Society’s Mary Warwick, the wildlife director, told CNN that she has been working with bats since another cold spell in 2019 caused Houston’s bats to leave their roosts. But she had never before organized a rescue effort of this size.
Houston experienced a decrease in temperature on December 21 from daytime highs in the 60s to overnight lows of 22 degrees. For the bats, that represents a sharp drop in temperature, according to Warwick.
There are eight kinds of bats in the Houston region, including the tiny Mexican free-tailed bats that sleep under many of the city’s bridges. They could no longer hang on within the bridge’s cavity when their body temperatures fell, according to Warwick. Some of them started to get so cold that they lost their balance and fell.
It was surprising, considering the frigid weather, for Warwick to have not received any calls about bats in need of assistance while she was running errands. She went to a bridge in Houston and “saw small spots on the ground,” she recalled. She said, “There were roughly 138 bats who had developed hypothermia. They seemed to be dead.
She set to work gathering the tiny bats and placing them in a box in her car, warming them up with the seat heater. “They were starting to move around after 20 minutes, which gave me a lot of optimism,” she said, noting that she lives approximately 40 minutes from the bridge. That evening, Warwick came back to collect an additional 50 frozen bats. She then got a call from someone who had discovered 920 more bats that required assistance.
Warwick examined the bats at her house to distinguish between those still alive and those that had perished, either from exposure to the cold or from falling to the ground. After raising their body temperatures by placing them in incubators, she gave them subcutaneous fluids.
But taking care of more than a thousand bats was too much. She then contacted the northern Texas-based nonprofit Bat World Sanctuary. Although Bat World could not handle such a vast number of bats, they nevertheless assisted Warwick in devising a strategy to take care of the frozen animals.
We determined that once I stabilized them, I could place them in my attic, where the temperature is chilly but not freezing, and that would reduce their metabolism, causing them not to require food but instead sip water, she said.
Warwick separated the bats into separate colonies and used crates to keep them together so they could rest and restore their vigor in her attic. There are currently 1,602 recovering bats in Warwick’s improvised bat hospital after several additional neighborhood residents called in bats that needed saving. She claimed that they stayed in her attic for around three days in all.
According to Warwick, only 115 of the gathered bats perished. She stated, “I was overjoyed with that. “In particular, the first fall must be difficult given that it involves dropping 20 feet from the bridge. The fact that these small critters can survive is amazing.
And on Wednesday, as Houston’s temperatures began to stabilize, the majority of the bats were returned to the original bridges. A handful still had trouble flying properly and was sent back to the attic, where, according to Warwick, they will get “additional supportive care.
To get the bats as close as possible to their roosting location under the bridge, Warwick and other volunteers from the humane organization borrowed a scissor lift. She said, “We wanted bats to have the finest opportunity to hear and watch, feeling motivated by their pals. They are quite sociable, have buddies up there, and are familiar with their chirps. Bats are “so small and adorable and sweet,” according to Warwick, which is one of the reasons she likes caring for them.
She said that to work with bats safely, Warwick and other rehabilitators who work with them receive rabies vaccinations. The Houston Humane Society advises anyone attempting to save a bat from putting on heavy leather gloves or refrain from touching it.
According to Warwick, bats are an essential component of Houston’s environment. In addition to providing food for hawks and other predators, they devour mosquitoes and insects that damage crops.
She noted that the Houston Humane Society is now seeking money for a new building with a special bat room.
She responded, “We’ve gone into their turf, where they reside. “It’s crucial that we look after them,”