The Great Halloween Bat Rescue, Updated

Of all possible days, on Wednesday, October 31st, better known as Halloween to the non-pedantic, the paths of myself and my coworkers crossed with a Mexican Free Tailed Bat in extremis.

Okay, so the title is rankest hyperbole; it was bumblingly carried out by two guys, with Google consulting.  And by rescue, I mean we took it to Bat World Sanctuary.

You’d think that a post that’s been two months in the making would be really good, but it’s important that we manage our expectations.

He was first found crawling in the immediate wake of the forklift I was driving; skirting the bounds of my anonymity here, but I’ll proffer that my job requires me to spend a lot of time in the warehouse where I work.  It’s basically like an office job, but less genteel and more heavy machinery.  “Courtney”, my boss, to whom I am an assistant, is behind me and to the left as I noisily idle past.  She’s leaning over and looking at something on the ground, and I barely hear her saying “What is that?”  As a big part of our job is ascertaining precisely what that is, it didn’t register much.  Then, though, looking around for the millionth time to see where everyone’s at (a habit necessarily cultivated when driving mobile and noisy heavy machinery indoors), I see the small black form on the ground that she’s looking at.  It’s moving, strangely.  Then:  “That’s a bat!

Elation.  Nay, glee.  Engine shut off, emergency break deployed, leapt from the forklift without setting down the cargo, flagrantly violating all safety policy.  We out in the hinterlands laugh at danger.

Quick interlude:  I love animals.  More than people, sometimes.  People can be duplicitous, manipulative, unwilling to understand fundamental truths due to various cognitive biases and dissonances, unwilling to understand themselves due to same, but animals seem simply to be.  It’s a state that everyone who’s ever seen a psychiatrist, who’s ever sat themselves down to meditate, anyone who’s ever abused a drug, ever chased ambition, ever started a family has striven mightily and at length for, but animals seem to be there naturally.  A dog will never be other than a dog.  It will not try to be a cat; it will not delude itself into acting as a bird because it wishes it could fly; it will not hate itself for not being a wolf.

I hied myself over to where “Courtney” was, and believe me when I say that no kid on Christmas morning was ever as excited as I, an allegedly full-grown man, was to see this bat.  She was keeping a respectful distance from it – we hoped the bat thought so too – and I did as well.  From the first look I could tell it was weak, and though something about the way a bat’s wings fold up always makes my brain think that they’re broken, the angles being so different to those of our own limbs, this bat was clearly favoring its right wing.  And just to clarify, when bats are crawling or climbing, they utilize their folded up wings as legs of a sort; their wings are hands, the membrane of which stretches out between their fingers, and their thumb is used as a makeshift toe when they’re not flying.  It’s really, really neat.  This is why the Order that all bats belong to is called Chiroptera, Latin for “hand wing”.  It goes without saying that Latin is also really, really neat.

Let’s put my feelings at this point into a little perspective:  I’m the guy who spent a day and a half not speaking to a coworker of mine who clumsily killed a black widow spider while I was away fetching my leather work gloves in a bid to take her and her unhatched babies outside, both for her safety and ours.  It was probably just as well, because is it really a good idea to handle a highly poisonous spider even with thick leather gloves, however beautiful you might find them to be?

Why, no.  No, it is not.  The only credible possible outcome to such a thing is a very, very high-stakes game of one-man hot potato.

Being that that was just a spider, a creature alien in nearly all respects and who may not even share in the capacity to suffer as we do, and that this creature here was a bat, who shared my warm blood, who was much closer to whatever it is that I am, my heart fell pretty hard to see it in such a bad way and set itself to abundantly bleeding in accordance with the finest old traditions of liberal/leftist indoctrination.

I should mention here that I live and work both pretty close-ish to the Bat World Sanctuary, founded and operated by the saintly Amanda Lollar.  She has advanced and continues to advance our behavioral and medical knowledge of an elusive, highly unique and difficult to observe and study order of animals, and she and her staff are capable of staggering feats of rehabilitation, routinely bringing even orphaned newborn baby bats from the brink of starvation and into perfectly healthy adulthood.  She came to my school way back when, and it made a lasting impression on me.

The Bat

Not pictured:  me fretting like a soccer mom.

That impression proved very fortuitous for this bat.  I ran for my phone to Google their number, and the bat unexpectedly reached one of our bay doors in the interval and had begun to climb by the time I got back.  It seemed to me to be a Herculean feat, weak as he was, but I feared hurting him if I were to interfere.  I called.  No answer.  Tried three more times.  I left a message, and by then the bat had climbed high enough to nestle himself beneath a beam or whatever that spans the width of the door, only his head sticking out as he oriented himself upside down, unreachable.  Nothing to be done.  I kept my phone close and tried to go about my business uneasily.  And as his ascent effectively put us into a holding pattern, I took a picture of him, which is to the right.  Note the swollen right wrist, and imagine how that felt to climb on.  Every time I’ve seen a wounded animal, despite how distressing it is I’ve been outright awed at how much better they handle the pain than we do.

An hour passed, then two.  I called again, still nothing.  It started to seem to us as though something was wrong down there; it was Halloween, and you have to figure that people who might ordinarily ignore a wounded bat might pay more attention today.  No way they’d close down like that.  Regardless, I peeled myself away from my work every fifteen minutes or so to check on the bat, but he obviously intended on settling in until nightfall.  Five o’clock was still a ways off, but steadily approaching, along with the bat’s certain death overnight once we had to lock up.  No means of getting him out seemed extant.

I’d like to emphasize how patient “Courtney” was about all this.  Now of course she knew I’d do quite a bit of sulking if she’d made me, you know, do my job, but don’t doubt that she also knows that I tend to work really hard when I’m in the midst of a good pouty sulk.  She could have told me to forget about the bat and set me loose, a sullen dynamo against the manifold tasks at hand, but she didn’t.  Without her forbearance, the bat wouldn’t have made it.  No doubt having me for an employee tends to cultivate forbearance.

Another hour, and our inspector, who is not named “Josh”, came up and says “Hey REDACTED, your bat’s gone.”  Sure enough, it was.  “Josh” helped me scour for it beneath the other beams or whatever and various other bits of warehouse miscellany.  Nothing.  Then I noticed the bay door had been cracked open a bit, maybe in an attempt to shake him out from hiding, give it an easy egress.

This did not elude our bat, who, being able to see in the dark, surely found the sunlight streaming in through the cracked door hard to ignore.  Whether he had fallen or come back down, he had taken that egress and crawled outside, opting to huddle up against a rain gutter and get as close to upside down as it could.  Or right side up, I suppose, if you’re a bat.  At any rate, it was eminently more catchable: more Pokémon than bat.  Another coworker, a certain “Thomas”, had offered to drive it down to Bat World if someone were to catch it for him.  I set about doing so, hoping he hadn’t just offered thinking that nobody would actually catch it.  I was spoken for after work, and would be unable to take it myself.

I remembered the instructions, having read them on my phone while the bat was inaccessible under that beam.  The absolute, inviolable rule #1:  Never, ever handle a wild bat with bare hands.  I’m no expert, but it seems from the extensive watching of bat videos on Youtube research I’ve done that bats can be surprisingly calm around people, and they’re kinda cute, so it can be very tempting to give them a little scritch behind those adorable yet incredibly sophisticated ears, presumably while speaking to it as one would a baby.  God knows it was for me.  Scritches, however, mandate a rabies test, what with the bare skin contact and bats being listed as a rabies vector species despite an extremely low rate of infection: less than half of one percent, due in part to infected bats sequestering themselves to protect the colony.  With dogs, I know the test involves beheading the dog to poke around in its brain; one would presume it’s likewise for bats (Edit:  It is.)  Sometimes, though, they simply aren’t so docile and are inclined to defend themselves from the hairless giant freak assailing it.  They got those little kitten needle teeth too, so you know it must hurt.

I again fetched my trusty heavy leather gloves, as there was no way it could bite through them, yet its claws could grip them if they needed to, and along with a small cardboard box set about capturing it, painfully aware all the while that I was terrorizing the little thing.  Still, at that point it was scared or dead.  Scared is better than dead.

There was  a fair amount of hemming, hawing and false starting.  “Courtney” stood by, occasionally bringing me various things to aid in gently capturing it, but as we were trying not to talk so as not to alarm him, I had absolutely no clue what she expected me to do with any of it, so I kept setting it all aside: a paper cup, a flat piece of cardboard, a rag, etc.  We both found this to be quite annoying.  Said annoyance from this only added to my tension over the nightmare scenarios in my head of our little bat freaking out as I closed in, imagining his tiny, skinny fingers shattering like glass as he suddenly began thrashing his wings about just as I closed my already clumsy grasp, rendered even clumsier by my work gloves, leading to further delay and giving it more time to huddle tighter into his corner, in turn making it harder to grasp him and making all my doomsday prophesies that much more likely, thus causing further delay.  It was a feedback loop of incompetency and catastrophization.

Tentatively, very tentatively, I laid my open gloved hand in front of it and very, very gently prodded its backside, cajoling him to crawl into my hand.  He didn’t weigh anything at all.  I’m not sure if it was simply being in my hand or that his claws could easily grip the leather of my gloves, but once in hand a burst of liveliness took him, and with heretofore unseen speed he tried to clear the other side of my hand.  I barely stopped him, too, but still managed to box him up with something resembling delicacy and carry it to my desk, where it began to scratch incessantly at the sides.

That was a deeply, profoundly sad sound.

Now I know a cardboard box isn’t a great container for a bat, and I know I terrified him even more than I already had by putting him in it.  We lacked the materials at work to attempt to construct a box per Bat World’s temporary care instructions, and any substitutions that could have been made seemed worse than a bare cardboard box.  I made a judgement call in accordance with my operating principle:  scared is better than dead.

In short, I was beginning to feel acutely guilty by this point.  I knew I meant well, but I was extremely conscious of how much bigger than him I was, how poorly equipped we were and how this all must have seemed from his perspective.

I called “Thomas” and told him I’d captured the bat; he collected it amiably enough.  I hoped “Thomas” would carry him gently, but I knew our bat would feel it no matter how careful he was.  Scared is better than dead, my Halloween mantra.  Don’t get me wrong, “Thomas” is an uncommonly nice guy, and the bat was already terrified anyway, and that was my doing.  All to be hoped for until it arrived at Bat World was a minimization of that terror.  At any rate, by the time “Thomas” took it away, my bleeding bloody soppy heart had gushed more than enough to drown vast swaths of Republicans.

Not that I would, I’m just saying.

That evening, Amanda herself returned my call around 7 PM and left a message – me being me, I missed the call, but we spoke about an hour later – apologizing and explaining that her father had suffered serious and unexpected complications with what was supposed to be a routine surgery, keeping the both of them at the hospital for hours.  He’s since passed away, sadly.  Her back-up, by sheer bad luck, was similarly detained as well.  Halloween was making itself felt all around, it seemed.  I will say, though, that it speaks volumes about the character of Amanda and her staff that despite the unmistakable fatigue in her voice, she and they were still very keen on getting help to our bat.  It also speaks to the fact that you just can’t ever plan for every possible thing that can happen.

Halloween wasn’t done with us yet either:  I had to presume that “Thomas” still had the bat given that there would have been nobody there just after work, so before I returned Amanda’s call I psyched myself up to invade his privacy at a possibly offensive hour and call him, figuring he’d be happy to have them come by and pick up the bat.  Or drive it there himself, because “Thomas” is nice like that.  I did so to no real effect, however, as “Thomas'” number wasn’t listed in the phone book.  Further, on the phone to Amanda I was made aware of the existence of the rescue boxes outside, with inner containers suitable for safely holding a bat temporarily in case no one is there or if someone wants to remain anonymous.  Surely the bat was in one of those!

Well, yes and no:  there was a misunderstanding of the purpose of the rescue boxes, resulting in “Thomas” removing the bat-friendly container within and taking it home to keep the bat in overnight.  Upside:  “Thomas” was considerate enough to the bat to not feel right leaving him alone in a box.  Downside:  the bat would be kept from the care he needed until morning at the very soonest.  Of course, in retrospect, I have no doubt that the rescue boxes are well-monitored and that it would have been perfectly fine, but it’s to his credit that he erred with caution, even when it meant taking on the responsibility of caring for an ailing bat for a night.  He did attempt to feed and water it when it was in his care, although the bat had refused both, so he really did mean well.

And to top it all off, not one trick-or-treater came by.

Still, we got him there the next morning.  Or “Thomas'” wife did.  She reported back to “Thomas”, who reported back to me that Bat World’s staff found the bat to be severely dehydrated.  It sounds strange, but I was happy to hear this: I’d read somewhere that bats can be disoriented and grounded by daylight, and worried more than a few times about whether he actually needed our help, about whether we were doing more harm than good.

During all this, because I’d gotten perhaps inordinately worked up over the well-being of a creature that isn’t exactly beloved by the people, a very, very dear friend of mine kept telling me that it’s a wild creature, and that it’s a fundamental truth of the wilderness, of nature, that not every creature gets to survive.  Hell, they can’t, it would wreck the ecosystem.  Consider that a single bat can eat several thousand insects per hour; imagine if every single one of those bugs were instead alive, swarming, omnipresent.  Per Wikipedia:  “If bats were to become extinct, the insect population is calculated to reach an alarmingly high number.”  It’s a sometimes painful truth of existence that life is anchored by death, lest it run unchecked and turn against itself.

So it might die, it’s nature.  Except by “nature”, most people really mean an ecosystem of some sort, as opposed to the far more abstract and utterly inviolate elements of physics that govern the conception, preservation, reproduction and cessation of all life, and further, the behavior of all the inanimate strata upon which life plays out.  That, to me, is Nature, and in that light it would be foolish of me to subscribe to the common human conceit that we are somehow above or even separate from it.  There was a heart beating, however weakly, in that bat’s chest, just as there is in my own, and it pumped blood through his body, just as mine.  That’s Nature, and we are none of us above our own hearts.  And more than that, it was in my nature to intervene.  We humans are social animals, after all; we lack the fur, the sharp teeth and the claws to go it alone.  Our strength lies in knowing that ten thousand of us are invincible where one of us is vulnerable even to too much sun.  And that innate communal human instinct to congregate isn’t just limited to our own kind, as we’ve lived alongside and tended animals for as long as we’ve existed.  This – me and that bat – couldn’t be any more “natural”.  And of course, it was never at any point about logistics, or the pros and cons of this particular one bat living or dying; nobody could seriously suggest that this bat’s death would meaningfully impact the ecosystem, such as it is here in a small city.  The bat population would have flown onward, the mosquitos would have continued vanishing in droves, and nobody besides Bat World, my immediate coworkers and myself would care much.

Still, this was more about agency in a world that is long lamented for depriving us of such; this was more about a meaningless act of mercy that was made meaningful by the way that same world seems to sorely lack any.  There were probably thousands of other bats all across the world in similar straits as ours, and millions, maybe billions of people suffering just as much, whether overtly or in that more subtle and insidious way so nearly inseparable from the modern human condition nowadays.  And me, I’m just a guy in a warehouse who keeps a stupid blog; what am I gonna do about any of it?  Even Bat World can only document the current onslaught of the mysterious White Nose Syndrome decimating bat populations currently, and they have far more power and knowledge than I do about anything at all.  Maybe, hopefully, science will figure out how to mitigate it somehow, but for now, we can only watch, and our helplessness makes our empathy a liability, a pointless pain, and yet those who truly have it wouldn’t ever give it up for any kind of peace that comes of callousness.  Knowing precisely why people keep caring when it hurts them is one of those things that separates the Christs and Buddhas of the world from us.  And I’m not saying that I know.  At best, I could take a couple stabs at it based on things I’ve read and meditated on, but that’s what parrots do; it’s not knowing.

None of us can do anything about any of it; we can scarcely understand it.  But this, this was simple:  it’s in our natures to wrestle with what all this might mean in the absence of apprehending that meaning directly, and the deepest problems of existence that our best minds have broken against like waves on a primordial beach were encapsulated right there in the microcosm of a tiny injured bat.  So let’s not mistake all this babbling for self-righteousness on my part.  Everything I did for that bat I also did for myself; for whatever selflessness there might have been, it was matched down to the last imperceptible iota by selfishness.

So no, there could be no contravention of Nature in attempting to save our bat, just as there can never be any contravention of it by any means whatsoever.  That bat succumbed to Nature.  We could, in turn, succumb to ours.

That’s not to say that my friend was wrong; she never is as a general rule.  She’d have done exactly what I did, and I’d have said the exact same things to her to try to make her feel better.  We’re tight like that, and we both tend to complicate very simple situations by becoming overly philosophical for no real reason.

So that’s the story, and what I took from it, leaving only to discuss the real rescuer here, the Bat World Sanctuary itself.  In the interim between then and now, I’ve engaged not only in protracted editing of this article as well as truly stubborn procrastination of the writing of same, but also in a lot of learning about bats.  For one, they’re far more intelligent than their reputation would suggest, as evidenced by their extremely sophisticated echolocation, their sense of playfulness and curiousity, and their capacity for psychological damage, all hallmarks of advanced intellect exhibited by other animals known to be highly intelligent, such as dolphins, whales and primates.  And before you tell me that primates don’t use echolocation, tell that to Ben Underwood.  And read this.  It’s not normal, but Ben’s not even the only instance.

These traits serve as both the impetus and the burden of Bat World Sanctuary.  For one, given how intelligent, expressive and personable they are, it’s certainly easy to see why someone like Amanda Lollar would be moved to dedicate herself to their welfare.  That said, bats are incredibly sensitive and unique creatures whose needs are many, specialized and difficult to meet, making captivity extremely taxing either for the captor or the captive.  In fact, Amanda makes a very convincing case that even the act of keeping a bat for a pet is itself an act of cruelty, simply because you pretty much need to create Bat World Sanctuary to keep up even a humane captivity, much less the comfortable and happy one they operate.

For starters, you need a colony; bats are extremely social creatures that take loneliness pretty hard.  In fact, they’re social to the point of having a very strong egalitarian streak, accepting bats that are crippled, albino and even of other radically different species without hesitation.  Tiny little Free Tails and gigantic flying foxes get along just fine.  That’s right:  socially, bats far, far outstrip humanity.  They also need room to fly, necessitating large structures and flight cages, tenders who can/will be awake at night when they’re active, specialized knowledge that most veterinarians won’t necessarily have, the facilities with which to execute that knowledge and some means to keep the bats’ active minds occupied.

That Bat World can fulfill all these requirements makes it a very, very unique place.  And in being able to provide a safe place in which bats can be comfortable, their staff has been in an equally unique position to study their behavior and pioneer methods of treating various ailments that, bats being primarily wild animals, would only very rarely present themselves for treatment.  Additionally, thanks to the reputation that they’ve built over the years, they’ve been able to reach and counsel people with bats living in their attics and other bat-related dilemmas and work out solutions amenable both to the bats and the people, where otherwise the bats might have been exterminated.

So what, you say?  How does this help society at large, you ask?  Well, aside from the mosquito-vectored West Nile Virus apocalypse that seems likely to occur if bats weren’t eating them all for us, fruit bats also pollinate something like 70% of every bit of the fruit you’ve ever bought; birds and bees just steal all their thunder.  That alone accounts well enough for insectivorous and, um, fruitivorous bats; what about the dreaded vampire bats?  Well sure, you could do without them, right up until you need anticoagulants to keep your very blood from clotting right smack in the middle of your aorta, because they make those drugs out of vampire bat saliva.  Besides, vampire bats don’t bite people, so don’t trouble yourself.  They do bite cattle, but the bite itself is so minor that the cattle are scarcely aware of it, and the amount of blood they take isn’t enough to cause any harm despite the fact that they drink until they’re bloated and unable to fly for a little while.  It’s also a one-bat-per-cow arrangement, and vampire bats go to the ground often enough to squabble over their territory that they’ve actually evolved to accommodate the flying leaps they’re fond of taking against each other and are the bats best suited for moving about on the ground.

Still, it all started with an injured bat way back when, and the core of Bat World’s day-to-day remains the care and rehabilitation of injured bats; they created the standards and methods they use in hand-raising orphaned newborns, designed the safe and comfortable captivity that crippled or otherwise unreleasable bats enjoy for the rest of their lives, and in one case even learned how to successfully treat brown recluse spider bites in bats, which given the highly unfavorable ratio of body mass to toxin in bats, are extremely dangerous to them.  For such strange and fragile creatures, that’s not unremarkable; it’s not as simple as holding a cuddly baby lion and bottle feeding it.  Much of the anatomy of a bat really has no parallel in any other creature.  Many otherwise very skilled veterinarians lack the knowledge and experience to treat them as effectively as they can other animals.  One vet even said that she would prefer to drive a bat from her place in South Dakota all the way here to Texas so that it could receive Amanda’s care.  There’s a larger picture, sure, and it’s important to advocate for the conservation of Order Chiroptera as a whole, but it still ultimately comes down to a love for actual, individual bats – for all actual, individual animals, actually – and a desire to allay their suffering.

Still, we gotta give the bats some credit:  for all that fragility, for how slender their fingers are and how thin their wing membranes are, the bat that me and my coworkers encountered was climbing up the wall on a wrist swollen up to three or four times its normal size.  Again, imagine your own wrist as a throbbing balloon seemingly comprised of a hundred million nerve endings howling in an agonized cacophony.  Imagine that wrist bearing your weight.  If you imagined anything besides unassuaged weeping, gnashing of teeth and then passing out to fall and crack your head on the concrete, I suspect you are being less than honest with yourself.  Yet the bat who would eventually come to be known as Ichabod was stoically climbing, undeterred to the point that it wasn’t until much later that I noticed from pictures of him on Bat World’s Facebook feed just how injured his right wrist had been.  It must have hurt like all hell, but very, very little of it showed through Ichabod’s demeanor.  In that light, I think it’s fair to say that the bats, through sheer toughness and perseverance, meet Bat World halfway in the joint effort to heal.

Of course, as all charitable organizations do, they must often take time from their true work and spend it instead on the tedious task of procuring funding.  For Bat World more than most, this matters, as I believe all the staff from Amanda on down are at the front lines of the actual rescue, treatment and rehabilitation efforts.  In short, they aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, and to my understanding, they don’t have staff dedicated solely to the more administrative functions such as this.  Still, they have their ways.  Aside from simple donations, there’s a number of vendors offering various batly products, with a percentage of the proceeds going to Bat World.  Amanda’s also written two books: a book for kids called Baby See-Through and another for veterinarians with the considerably more ponderous title Standards and Medical Management of Captive Insectivorous Bats.  There’s also the venerable Adopt-a-Bat sponsorship program.  If one of the stories of Bat World’s lifelong residents particularly moves you, you can sponsor that bat and help fund his/her care and receive pictures and information on both the species of bat and of your bat in particular.  It seems geared primarily to allow classrooms to adopt a bat as a way to learn about them, but nothing at all stops you, the mature and cosmopolitan urbanite on the go, from sponsoring the mighty Peekaboo, should you take a liking to her.

Currently, Bat World’s facilities are reaching their maximum capacity; given that bats can live up to 25 years and that disabled bats are provided lifelong residency and care, this isn’t surprising.  To this end, they’re competing with other organizations in a fundraising drive on Crowdrise.  The winner gets an extra $50,000 on top of the donations already gathered, which in Bat World’s case would go towards building an expansive new facility that could house many, many more bats, and even assurance colonies against the potential extinction threat of the aforementioned White Nose Syndrome, a strange and deadly new disease afflicting bats.  Details are on the Crowdrise website.

Now I have mixed feelings about “advertising” for anyone here, much as I have mixed feelings about having charitable groups and people competing with one another.  For this, though: I’ve respected their work since I was a teenager, and after this brush with them, after everything I’ve learned about their work and the bats they care for, that’s only been born out.  And it’s not as if Amanda’s just seeking to raise other peoples’ money:  she recently signed over $100,000, the whole of her inheritance from her father, to Bat World Sanctuary.  Indeed, even fate seems to favor their work.  On their website is related the story of Mr. Kitty, a bat that was rescued by a stray cat that hangs around Bat World.  The cat, Mrs. Kitty, has done this three times.  Now perhaps it’s superstitious of me, but the astronomical odds against the one single solitary cat in the whole wide world that wouldn’t just eat a bat just so happening to live behind the bat sanctuary tends to invoke in my mind the hands of unseen powers working grand, subtle plans in mysterious ways and with surprisingly ironic senses of humor.

It’s not like there are bat sanctuaries on every other block, you know.  Or even every other state, for that matter.  That’s all I’m saying.

Pragmatically speaking, sure, the world would keep turning if there weren’t a place to take in afflicted bats.  But it’s easy to recall how worked up I got over that bat’s plight, and how as troubling as that was, it was preferable to grieving its death.  There’s much more to their work besides rehabilitation work, but even if there wasn’t, I think one of the biggest troubles we as a people have is that we’ve tended too much to the body of our society while neglecting its soul.  So to speak.  Stepping up for one bat won’t ever do much for the former, but it can do wonders for the latter, and in a world where Twitter flared alight with full on KKK-grade racism when our black president was reelected, we probably need that.

Post-script:  A little while back, long after this post was rewritten and edited for the 348634th time, I happened to see a post on Bat World’s Facebook feed about a Mexican Free Tail that came to them on Halloween with an injured right wrist and suffering from dehydration.  He’s been named Ichabod by consensus, and was initially estimated to be ready for release back into the wild by next spring.  An update on his condition is at the very end.

Clearly, lest my anonymity be compromised, this must be a coincidence, and some other handsome young commie-pinko-hippie collected an identical bat with an identical right wrist injury from an identical situation at the same time I did.  As I’m not all that Facebook savvy, I can’t seem to figure out how to link you to the post in question, but I can link you to their Facebook feed and suggest you look at the post for November 6th.

But no, seriously, I was able to confirm with Bat World that Ichabod is in fact the same bat that I held in my hand, sort of, barely.  I’d been meaning to try to contact them and find out how our bat was doing, but having gotten a feel during my reading for how insanely busy they must be, I hadn’t wanted to bother them with a more or less idle question.  As such, this confirmation was greeted with elation.  Nay, glee.

Aww, mealworm mustache.

Aww, mealworm mustache.

UPDATE:  Amanda has let me know that sadly, Ichabod will not be able to return to the wild after all:  it would seem his wrist was too badly injured – and it was extremely swollen – and now his fingers don’t fold properly.  As I mentioned above, a bat’s fingers are the frame on which the wing membrane is stretched, so unfortunately Ichabod has lost the ability to fly.  Still, while I know nothing can likely ever make up for such a loss of mobility, now he’ll spend the rest of his life having catered mealworms and being warm and safe and fat and happy at Bat World, and indeed Amanda reports that he’s otherwise healthy and happy and making friends.  That thought makes me pretty happy too.  She also sent along some new pictures of him too, above and below.  I’ve said it a million times by now, but thank you Amanda, for the update, the kind words, the pictures, and most of all for looking after Ichabod.

And his wrist looks SO MUCH BETTER.

And his wrist looks SO MUCH BETTER.

He's tiny.

He was grey when we found him, believe it or not.

My god, this is long.  How did that happen?

18 thoughts on “The Great Halloween Bat Rescue, Updated

  1. i am fairly sure we’ll ‘converse’ if not “at length” then some other relative means of measurement about this. and whatever. i see you ‘came over’ and chect in on my (ahem!) fixional nude-tequila-besotten-canoeing story — WHILE I WAS STILL EDITING IT. ah, yes, bats. we (as yoove know dowt surmizd) are a sanctuary (not necessarily for batz).

    • Ha, yeah, that was quick, huh? I was up late last night, and gmail told me you posted something, so I went right over. One of my favorite posts of yours for sure, very funny.

      And I could, at this point, easily converse by however vast means of measurement about bats. And whales. Bats and whales. Both amazing animals in their ways. And pretty soon I’ll finish Moby Dick and start writing the Book Report on it. Might be as long as the book is.

      • the white nose thing (whatever itz cauld) is worrisome up my way — and (i hope not) — that scourge affects bats practically everywhere! makes ya wonder.
        i get a misanthropic tendency quite often, especially the tendency to believe that “man-kind” has skroood stuph up MORE than not. and human overpopulation is da whirled environmental crisis #1 (and #s 2 thru’ a few more). yeah, people have the capacity (seemingly sparsely utilized) to be the intermediary betwixt ‘nature’ and the ‘divine’ (whuddever yood caullit) — and when moping/stewing in such a tendency, i wonder why world-wide calamities which threaten other species don’t unleash upon mankind so much. ha, eh, i’ll be vindikkaytid sum day, maybe.

    • Hey, I’m replying to your last comment…apparently WordPress doesn’t want to let me reply to your reply to my reply. Gets confusing, I suppose.

      I didn’t realize White Nose Syndrome was particularly bad in Colorado…that’s troubling. I believe it first surfaced in New York, so that’s a hell of a lot of ground it covered. Scary.

      And they sure make it hard to not be misanthropic. Trying to be “green” or at least not do so much harm is like trying to walk on eggshells, it’s so bad. I agree with you on the intermediary thing, right down to not being entirely sure what to call “God” or the “divine” or whatever…we just always fall short as a whole. There’s some amazing individuals out there, like Amanda, and if I may do my faux arrogance thing for a moment, you and I are pretty awesome too, but as a whole…eh. I think we’ll end up being the direct cause of our calamity. It’s too bad, we could do so much better.

      • I hope we all enjoy a happy New Year…keep writing. It gives me something to enjoy just before I turn off the light and go to sleep.

  2. What an amazing story! I found an insured bat a few years ago and the best I could do for him was take him outside and carefully place him in a tree. Looking back, he likely died. Now I know about Bat World Sanctuary, I am better equipped to deal with an injured bat. ;)

    • Hey, maybe your bat was just disoriented or swept to the ground by the wind? I don’t think they can take off from the ground, so you might have saved him by putting him in the tree?

      And Bat World sure saved me a lot of stress; it was good knowing there was a place that could help him. There’s only so much that regular untrained folks can do for bats. Thank you, I’m glad you liked it :)

  3. This has been a wonderful article to read on a sunny, wintery Sunday morning. What a treat to know what goes on behind the scene for a rescued bat! The beauty of the story is only surpassed by the beauty of your writing – as Bat World peeps themselves wrote on their Facebook page, you need to be writing books. :) Happy New Year from a Bat World fan!

    • Thank you, really. I do have a couple of ideas for books, but more often than not I end up writing on this blog here, which is okay. I’m very flattered to have ended up on Bat World’s Facebook like that. They are extremely kind people, I can say that firsthand. Happy New Year to you too, from another Bat World fan.

  4. Thank you for your story (um…however a bit lengthy 😶). Since I “discovered” Amanda and BatWorld, I have followed the progress of many of the residents. I am currently in California (a 3 yr stint), but my home is in Texas, about 2 hours from BatWorld. I hope to visit and become a regular volunteer when I return to Texas. I have become an advocate for the bats and Amanda’s work, even to begging donations from friends and family here in Cali. Now look, my comment is too long! Anyway, I look forward to more of your blogs…even if they are a bit verbose! 😜

    • Another Texan! It’s good of you to want to pitch in. I know just the brief contact with Ichabod that I had did me a lot of good, I can imagine must be really rewarding work. Which reminds me, I haven’t yet donated to that Crowdrise thing yet, thank you.

      And thank you for liking my blog as well. My posts are long, but I make up for it with infrequency, lol.

  5. Yeah! I made it, gone the whole through it *g*. Really long and voluptuary post. But I understand your cause (Hail to Ardmore ;) and case (Hail to Amanda :), as my mother in law rescues bats on a routinely base (two cats and living in a “witch house” ^^, ya know) – at least the vet in her town knows how to treat and give ’em to the next sanctuary…
    So far for this time,
    delo @ theoldnewcity

    • Yeah, sorry about the length. And that I’m late replying…my latest post explains why. It’s not quite as long, so no worries.

      Good for your mother in law; it’s not easy doing that, they’re so fragile. There’s a local vet that helps Bat World with stuff that they can’t handle too, and he’s taught Amanda how to do some things too…I think mostly things where getting the bat to the vet would kill it or hurt it worse. It’s lucky, a lot of vets probably never even get a chance to work on bats.

      I googled Ardmore…are you referring to the whiskey? Must be good stuff, huh?

      • No prob with the late reply, it isn’t IRC ;). And to your latest post: ouch. But my wife spoke enough about it, so just a little “get better” from my side, too :).

        And yup, my MIL (don’t put the F after it *grrr* – by the way, does amusement hurt? Then sorry *g*) had a hard time with those little flying mice, not only for learning how to transport ’em but, you know, cats can be rather agressive when hunting and playing, so some bats she couldn’t rescue and had to kill to gettim ’em out of their misery.
        Broke her heart every time – she even can’t harm spiders…

        And yes, I was referring to the whisky Ardmore, very good stuff – got it from Potstil Whisky store and bought another one (some special Edition Ben Riach) for our 6 year anniversary in April (not our wedding anniversary ;).

        so much from me,

      • God, yeah. I’m not sure I could bring myself to put down a bat like that. Guess if you really want what’s best for one beyond help, you have to force yourself to do the right thing.

        I’m going to check out that Ardmore stuff. If it’s not like $200 a shot or something, anyway. Good, obscure whiskey’s always welcome, and very very hard to come by in a small Texas town.

  6. Luckily it’s winter in Austria, so no bat catching for my MiL’s cats *g* – sent her the link to (by the way – your first link to them in your post is broken ;) anyway.

    And for gettin good whisk(e)ys I found a list of retailers around the US and within TX…
    Yep, a good slug from a nice branded beverage is alway welcome, too :).

    so far,

  7. Pingback: Happy Halloween Rescueversary! | blueinthislight

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