Bat rescue turns into rabies scare

Crooked Leg Ranch rescues many creatures but one was complicated by a rabies scare

When you work in a rescue business, not much will surprise or phase you.  That was why Willow responded to a call to go rescue some bats.

Someone had a box with three bats with no idea how to care for them, so Willow was called. She picked them up, put the box on the back seat and then carried on with her day. She phoned a friend who works with wildlife but had to wait for a response so the bats went on the road with her.

Finally, she was advised that the best option was to release the bats in a place that was safe from predators. She put the box up high in a garage, opened the lid and backed away. When she checked in the morning, all of the bats were gone. So, job well done, she hoped that they thrived on the bugs at the ranch.

The next day, as she was driving to work, her car started squeaking. That wasn’t unusual, so she just turned up the radio to cover the squeak.  The squeak continued and got louder. And louder. She stopped the car and started to investigate because the squeak continued after the car was turned off.

She opened the glove box and there was a very hungry baby bat. It was tiny and nearly hairless.  She picked it up, wrapped it up and wondered what to feed it. Willow contacted another wildlife friend who told her that it would probably die but do the same thing as she did with the others, give it a chance to fly away. As an aside, her friend mentioned that many bats have rabies. What? Rabies?

Now the panic was on. Willow called the nurses help line and was told the risk was high to extreme and that she would probably need a rabies shot. Symptoms are itchiness and pain leading to fatigue, soreness, fever and maybe death. So now Willow was really worried but the bats didn’t really bite so maybe things were OK.

She tried to let the baby bat fly away but it was still there the next day so she took it to a local wildlife centre. A centre must be certified and licensed to work with wildlife so this bat could not be kept at the ranch.

You will be pleased to know that the bat was well taken care of and as far as we know, Willow is not rabid.

For more information, please contact www.crookedlegranch.com.

Liz-Anne Eyford is a volunteer with Crooked Leg Ranch.

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