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Connie the Brown Long-Eared Bat

March 7, 2016

On Sunday afternoon, Megan and I returned to the Urban Wildlife Centre after leading a successful Urban Weekenders, our monthly Sunday volunteer work group. We packed away all the tools and parked up the vehicles, and as we were about to leave, I noticed something on our outside wall. Something that looked vaguely… bat-shaped!

Our confused bat on the wall - © J Bedford

Our confused bat on the wall – © J Bedford

I approached the wall to find that it was indeed a bat, and a long-eared one at that! I called to Megan and we stood pondering what to do; I’d never come across a bat like this before! We knew that something wasn’t quite right. A bat shouldn’t be out in the open during the day, and at this time of year, it should still (just about!) be hibernating. We tried a couple of our contacts, to see if they could give us some advice about what to do with our winged friend, but to no avail. We decided to leave the bat overnight, and come morning, see if it had found its way home.

When I got back to work on Monday morning, the poor bat was still on the wall. I called a local bat rescuer, Sally , who agreed that it didn’t sound normal for the bat to be out in broad daylight. Sally advised me to carefully collect the bat, wearing gloves, and place it in a wildlife tank in a cool and dark place. She wasn’t able to come along immediately, but said she would arrive later to assess the bat, and see if it was healthy enough to put into the loft (as we have a brown long-eared bat maternity roost here). If not, Sally, who is a licensed bat carer, said she would take the bat back with her to nurse it back to health.

When Sally arrived, I took her to see the bat. Sally weighed the bat, and confirmed it was a female brown long-eared bat. She was slightly underweight and Sally thought she was one of last year’s babies from our maternity roost in the loft. Our unfortunate bat had been attacked by a cat; she had some small puncture wounds in her wings, and a bleeding ear, but was otherwise well hydrated (it had a wee as it was being weighed!) and cool. This was a good sign, meaning it was unlikely that septicaemia would have spread around her little body. Sally thought the reason the bat was on the wall was that, after the attack, she came back to where she was born, looking for help from the bats in the roost!

The brown long-eared roost. Archive photo taken by a licensed ecologist - © DEC

The brown long-eared roost. Archive photo taken by a licensed ecologist – © DEC

Because she was underweight and had been attacked, Sally decided to take her home, where she would get be assessed by a vet, and given a course of antibiotics, to clear up any infection brought by the cat. Sally agreed to keep me updated on her progress and I bid her goodbye and a speedy recovery to the bat.

When I called Sally a few days later, she assured me that ‘Connie’ was doing well! Brown long-eared bats can be notoriously difficult to look after, being reluctant to feed. After Sally had unsuccessfully tried hand-feeding Connie, she left her alone with some beetle larvae, and by morning they were all but gone! Once Connie has recovered, Sally will bring her back to the Urban Wildlife Centre to release her!

The mild and wet winter we’ve been having has been a great cause for concern for Sally and other bat carers; brown long eared bats in particular can be active in winter under these conditions, making them susceptible to cat attacks and other injuries. In this case, Connie seems to have been fairly lucky, but not all bats will have such good-fortune.

Sally has had lots of bats in her care, and is looking for anyone interested in bats who might like to volunteer with her at East Dorset Bat Rescue. You don’t have to commit all your spare time; even an hour once a month would be appreciated! If you are interested, find out more at

Bats are protected species and should not be disturbed or handled by someone who is not licensed to do so. Jack very briefly handled the bat at the Urban Wildlife Centre under instruction from Sally Humphreys (who is licensed) as it was necessary to protect the bat from predators and provide it with water to keep it alive.


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