An unexpected visitor to the museum recently caused consternation for some of the staff. On returning to work after a weekend, a bat was discovered desperately clinging to the carpet on the stairs leading to the first floor of the galleries. Dr Williams managed to remove the bat from the stairs and realising the bat was very cold, kept it in a dishtowel in a warm spot and sought advice. A member of Bats KZN – The Bat Interest Group of KZN - provided advice on what to do and the bat was kept warm and allowed to rest. That evening a volunteer and staff member tried to release the bat, and although it was responsive and active, it did not want to fly away. So the following day the bat was collected by a member of Bats KZN so it could be rehabilitated by people with the necessary expertise. A Bats KZN member examined the bat and identified it as a male Egyptian Free-tailed bat (Tadarida aegyptiaca). They usually weigh 15 grams, but this bat only weighed 12 grams suggesting it had not eaten for a few days. It did not have any fractures, but had some bruising on the left forearm and wrist. It was then provided with appropriate treatment and TLC. The Free-tailed bats get their name from having a “free” tail – the tail in not fully enclosed in the membrane. These creatures are very important in the ecosystem, eating insects and keeping the mosquito population under control. If you ever find an injured bat, it is advisable to get expert advice as these creatures are very sensitive and require specialised treatment.
The Bat Interest Group of KZN provide rehabilitation for injured bats and are a great source of information should you have any bat related queries.
Photos courtesy of Kirsten Steytler