THE BAT INTEREST GROUP
OF KWA ZULU NATAL
Copyright (C) 2011 Bat Interest Group of KwaZulu Natal All Rights Reserved
Copyright Paul Buchel


Until it can be transferred to a member of the bat group, a sick bat is best put with a cloth in a cardboard box in a quiet place. The bat can be offered a little water by syringe or on the end of a spoon or paint brush but this is not usually necessary. Sick bats should be treated within 6 hours, and definitely before dark when they will wake up for food. Never keep a bat overnight without feeding: bats need to eat regularly.
 
Torpor is a natural reaction to stress so the bat may be cold and slowed up: it is easier to examine a torpid animal. Many bats (especially the free-tail bats) are comforted by being held, so holding a small bat in a cloth in your hand will help to calm it down as well as keeping it warm.
 
In a safe place observe the whole animal carefully: see if it moves normally or if there are signs of damage, gently spread the wings out and clean off matted fur which may hide wounds.
 
You have to decide if it is practical and kind to treat the animal. Fractures of the head, jaw and spine are best not treated and the animal euthanased.
 
Holes in wings mend themselves quite quickly and provided the bat can still fly, and has no other injuries, such bats should be released as soon as possible. Other cuts can be washed with warm water and Betadine solution (diluted 1 in 20). Don't use strong smelling antiseptics. Open and puncture wounds (cat bites especially) may have picked up infections and the bat will need an antibiotic course immediately. A concussed bat is quiet and sleepy, although it usually eats and has no obvious signs of injuries. Supportive treatment in a quiet and warm place for the few days it takes to recover is all that is necessary.
 
Most bats found grounded are dehydrated and cannot swallow or chew properly. To test for dehydration gently pinch a fold of skin up over the shoulder blades - a healthy animalís skin will drop back again immediately. Although some bats (mostly the vesper bats) will drink water, the quickest and best method of rehydrating is to inject a small amount of lactated ringers solution (LRS) subcutaneously above the shoulder blades. You will need a vetís help for this.
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