How to get involved with Bat Rehabilitation
Bats found grounded or exposed often need urgent help. They may be orphaned, exhausted or injured. At the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) we have a list of bat carers, wildlife hospitals and bat ambulance drivers throughout the UK known as the UK Bat Care Network. This is a network of volunteers who can assist with injured or grounded bats that are found by the general public.
The Helpline at the Bat Conservation Trust receives many calls from all over the UK about injured or grounded bats, and through the network, we are able to refer to Network contacts that may be able to provide guidance and assistance in order to give the bat(s) in question the best chance to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild. In 2015 alone, the National Bat Helpline recieved nearly 8,000 enquiries about bats in need of assistance. This figure has risen annually over the past few years and looks set to continue to do so.
With the awareness increasing, contact is being made more often about when a bat is found in need of assistance. Extra help is therefore always needed, and hugely appreciated. This is where you could come in!
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 care contact 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.
- understanding the need to make tough decisions - keeping bat welfare at the heart of every choice made to help alleviate suffering
Bat care contacts 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 type of rabies virus. Evidence in the form of a vaccination certificate or doctor’s declaration form must be supplied to us. If you wish to print this form to take to your GP, click the relevant following link or please contact David Jackson firstname.lastname@example.org) England and Wales declaration form Scotland declaration form Northern Ireland declaration form
- 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.
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 David Jackson on 0345 1300 228 or email email@example.com.
For a take home resource, please also read through our Bat Rehabilitation - How to get involved leaflet.