Evening bat shows signs of soft tissue trauma

November 30, 2023

An evening bat was among the sixty animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include five double-crested cormorants, a blue jay, a tri-colored heron, a hispid cotton rat and a black racer.

The evening bat was found on the stairs at a condominium. Von Arx Wildlife Hospital staff spoke with the rescuer in great detail when she arrived at our facility.

Be Careful with Bats

Bats are considered a high-risk rabies vector species. Staff needed to ensure the rescuer was safe from any possibility of exposure. Our discussion revealed the rescuer did not handle or touch the bat with bare hands, therefore, there was no risk of exposure.

If the woman had touched the bat with her bare-hands, the outcome would have been very different. The bat would have had to be euthanized and sent for testing to see if it was positive for rabies.

Bat being handfed

Most people don’t realize the only way to test if an animal has rabies is to euthanize the animal and examine its brain. Again, since the rescuer was careful and had not handled the bat with her bare hands, there was no risk of exposure.

Bat Suffers from Soft Tissue Trauma

The bat was reactive and vocal when examined with no visible injuries noted on its wings and body. Staff placed the bat in a soft-sided reptarium to rest from the stress of capture and admission.

A check on the bat a short while later showed it was resting comfortably, so staff provided food and water to see if the bat would eat on its own overnight. 

The following morning, the bat looked much different. She was hanging in the corner of her reptarium with her fur fluffed up and her eyes were squinty, indicating she was in pain. It is common for signs of pain from soft tissue trauma to become evident 24 to 48 hours after injury.

Staff administered subcutaneous electrolytes and oral pain medications. A re-check an hour later showed she was more responsive, but still not interested in eating. It was determined additional electrolytes and pain medication were required at the afternoon treatment. That evening, the bat was eager to eat when hand fed.

Bat being handfed

Staff continued with the electrolytes, pain medication and hand feedings twice daily. Initially, the mealworms needed to be cut in half but by the fourth day, the bat was able to eat whole mealworms.

Each day the bat looks healthier, more alert and no longer requires pain medication.

No one should ever attempt to handle a bat, or any wild animal, without appropriate protective equipment. Always use a towel or gloves if you find an animal in distress and call the wildlife hospital before taking action if unsure of how to safely rescue an animal. Hospital staff will provide advice that will keep the rescuer’s safety a top priority while ensuring the animal receives the help the animal needs.

Call us at 239-262-2273 for wildlife assistance. We are open every day from 8am to 7pm.


Recent Releases

A tri-colored heron, two Cooper’s hawks, a boat-tailed grackle, an eastern cottontail, three red-shouldered hawks and a burrowing owl were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Visit our website to learn about opportunities to get involved. Pease consider volunteering, if you are unable to give of your time as a volunteer, become a member or donate. Donations are tax-deductible and make a tremendous impact on our ability to procure needed supplies. As a non-profit, balancing resources is always a challenge. Your support helps the Conservancy continue to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future. 

Joanna Fitzgerald is the Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, Florida 34102. Call 239-262-2273 or see conservancy.org.