Become a bat carer
Bats found on the ground often need urgent help they may be orphaned, exhausted or injured. The Bat Helpline provides advice on the rabies risk, temporary containment of the bat(s) and on any immediate care required.
Bat Helpline staff locate the nearest bat carers and provide the caller with their contact details so that the bat can be collected, given the necessary care and re-released at the site it was found.
Currently there is a chronic shortage of bat carers and we need more volunteers with the right skills and experience.
Bat rescue is a specialist area that requires experience and knowledge and should only be carried out by, or in conjunction with, an experienced carer/rehabilitator. As a carer you will need to be able to:
- identify the species of bat - as this may affect the diagnosis.
- assess the health status of the bat - bats are very small and injuries like puncture wounds from a cat, broken bones or low weight will not always be obvious.
- make the right care choice for the individual bat - bats are protected and specific legislation exists in relation to their conservation and care. Anyone caring for a bat must be aware of this legislation and must follow the correct procedures to stay within the law.
Bat carers contribute the conservation or our vulnerable bat species in a number off ways:
- Successful releases - Through the hard work and dedication of the UK’s bat carers many bats found grounded or injured by members of the public are successfully released back into the wild population.
- Public education - Finding a grounded individual is often the first contact a member of the public will have with bats. It is a fantastic opportunity to educate the public about these amazing mammals and the need to conserve them.
- Identification of roosting sites - A grounded bat found in a garden is likely to be roosting nearby. By talking to homeowners and re-releasing bats where they were found, we can identify and protect new roosting sites.
- In addition, anyone training to be a roost visitor or a bat carer needs experience in identifying and handling live bats. Long-term captives and bat care in general provide a chance for trainees to get some valuable hands on experience.
- Join your local Bat Group.
- Gain experience with the Bat Group members. Some Bat Groups also run their own bat care courses covering first aid and bat handling.
- Get vaccinated against rabies. As a responsible organisation, we require all carers on our list to be fully vaccinated against rabies. This is because a small number of bats in the UK have been found to carry a rabies type virus. Evidence in the form of a vaccination certificate or doctor’s declaration form must be supplied to us. If you wish to receive this form to take to your GP, click the link above or please contact Jess Barker (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Contact BCT to be listed as a traninee vaccinated carer; we will put you in touch with other local carers to provide training and support, and facilitate communication. we will also send you a New Bat Carer’s pack containing lots of information about how to get started.
- Once you have gained sufficient experience, please contact us to be added to our list of vaccinated bat carers – the BCT UK Bat Care Network. The Bat Helpline will then pass your number to callers who find injured bats in your area.
Most of our listed bat carers have gained their experience and knowledge through other bat rehabilitators and their local Bat Groups.
The BCT published the Bat Care Guidelines which includes vital information regarding bat care and rehabilitation, aimed at new bat carers, vets and wildlife hospitals. It can be obtained once you are listed with us as a carer.
A subscription to the Bat Care Newsletter from Maggie Brown who runs the West Yorkshire Bat Hospital is also available; please contact the Bat Helpline for details. We would also encourage you to join the BCT bat discussion forum to exchange information and experiences with other bat carers.
All those handling bats should also wear gloves during handling. BCT's Wearing gloves when you handle bats document provides further information on the reasons for this and the types of gloves available for different species and situations.
If you have any questions, or would like to discuss becoming a bat carer, please contact Jess Barker on 0845 1300 228 or email email@example.com.