5 things to do when you find a bat in your kitchen
One afternoon a couple of weeks ago I was getting ready to collect the eldest from school, pouring out a travel mug of coffee, when I turned around and almost fell over this little fellow.
At first I thought Little Man had left one of his toys on the kitchen floor but then I realised that it WAS actually a bat.
A bat in my kitchen. A bat that was covered in cobwebs and didn’t look too well.
I took some quick snaps and then googled “bat in my house” – don’t you just love the Internet? The Bat Conservation Trust website came up in the results and I gave them a call. They were super helpful and gave me loads of advice about what to do next.
5 things to do when a bat comes to visit
#1 BATS DON’T LIKE LIGHT AND NOISE
Bats emerge at dusk to feed and rest during the day so if they’ve stumbled into your house in broad daylight (or fallen down the chimney as we think our little friend did) then they’re going to be pretty overwhelmed by the light and noise of a typical family home! You need to move it to a room where it will be on it’s own, away from people or other animals such as pets, and relatively quiet.
#2 KEEP IT SAFE
If the bat isn’t flying around the room then it’s a good idea to contain it so that it is kept safe until help arrives. The advice from the Bat Conservation Trust is to poke small holes in a shoebox for ventilation, add something soft like an old tea towel for it to crawl under and then coax the bat inside before closing the lid.
#3 KEEP YOURSELF SAFE
All wild animals are potentially harmful and some bats do carry rabies so if you need to handle the bat use gloves or a cloth just in case it gets scared and gives you a little nip or scratch in self defence.
#4 GIVE IT A DRINK
We think our visitor probably came down the chimney but we have no idea how long it was in there before it decided to pop out and say hello. It could have been dehydrated so I was advised to put a drink of water in it’s new temporary shoe box home. Bats are tiny so all you need is a plastic milk bottle top with a few drops of water in it.
#5 CALL FOR HELP
Bats are a protected species so you need to call in expert help who can check that your visitor is healthy. The Bat Conservation Trust will put you in touch with your local bat rescue group who will often have a team of experts on call ready to come and help rescue bats who’ve strayed from their home.
Following the advice I popped our bat into a small shoe box in our utility room. Unfortunately I forgot to put the lid on before I left for the school run and when I came back it had taken up roost on my trainers!
At this point I left the room again for just a few moments (to break up an argument between the little people) and when I returned the bat had gone altogether! A hunt around the house ensued (a great distraction from the argument) and we finally found it in the dining room. This time I made sure when it was back inside the shoe box I popped the lid on and then we left it alone.
That same evening two volunteers, Steve and Francis, from my local Essex Bat Group came to collect our visitor. They told us that it is an adult male pipistrelle bat in fairly good health but they took it away to their centre to make sure it was flying and feeding well. I thought that would be the last we’d see of ‘Batty’ but last Tuesday I had a call to say that it was coming back that night to be released into the wild again close to our house (presumably near to where it was living).
So we got the chance to see Batty again. It turns out he was covered in something sticky that had to clean off, had a few mites and a wonky eye but that he was flying and feeding well. Curly Girl stayed up for a lesson in bat care and was fascinated, asking lots of questions including what he eats – meal worms at the centre and up to 3000 midges a night in the wild.
It was a beautiful, chance encounter with an amazing animal.
And then he was gone, flying high above our house and disappearing into the night.
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