April 17th is Bat Appreciation Day! We know, we’re usually focused on pets, rather than on wildlife. However, we share our beautiful state with a variety of fascinating animals … such as bats. Given that we’re so close to the famous Bracken Cave, which is home to 15 million of them, we’re happy to turn the spotlight on these crucial but misunderstood critters. A San Antonio, TX vet goes to bat for bats below.
Bracken Cave is a crucial bat habitat. A huge colony of Mexican free-tailed bats goes there annually to give birth and raise their babies. These particular bats devour several harmful insects that damage our crops, such as the corn earworm moth. While many bat habitats are threatened by development, Bat Conservation International owns this one, and has turned the 1500-acre property into a nature preserve. You can learn more about the site here.
Bats have definitely suffered from some bad PR, in large part due to horror movie tropes. While vampire bats do exist, most bats eat fruit and insects. In fact, a single bat can chomp down 3000 bugs in one night. They love eating mosquitos. If you want to help bats out, consider putting a bathouse on your property.
What should you do if you find a bat? Nothing! If it’s daytime, it may just be resting. If it’s in your house, close the door and open the windows of the room it’s in, turn out the lights, and leave. Hopefully, it will leave after dark.
An injured bat is a bit different. Do not touch or handle the bat: your first move should be to contact a wildlife rehabilitator and ask for instructions. If you are asked to transport it, put thick gloves on, and then use a shoe or piece of cardboard to gently scoop it into a small, ventilated box with a towel in it. Do not bathe, feed, or treat it, and do not handle it with your bare hands.
You may have heard that bats can carry rabies. Although only a small percentage of bats are infected, this is something to be cautious with. Keep up with your pet’s vaccinations, and don’t let them come into contact with any bats you may find.
Does your pet need a rabies shot? Contact us, your San Antonio, TX animal clinic!