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Rare Bonneted Bat Finds Home at Zoo Miami

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An endangered Florida Bonneted Bat has found a new home, inside a camera pouch, at Zoo Miami.

The baby was found by a Miami park ranger, last month, and was soon given the moniker, ‘Bruce’, after the famed comic book character. Volunteers tried to locate the mother in the vicinity, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Wildlife rescue officials were contacted, and the baby bat was sent to a rescue center in Fort Lauderdale. After it was determined the baby was a rare Bonneted Bat, federal officials turned its care over to Zoo Miami.

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Frank Ridgely, a veterinarian and head of conservation and research at Zoo Miami, began feeding the bat a milkshake of diluted goat’s milk, crushed bug guts, and high-protein powder. ‘Bruce’ is responding well to the feedings and is happily growing accustomed to his new home, snuggling into his camera pouch-sleeping bag.

This is the first juvenile Bonneted Bat rehabbed, according to experts, and the entire process is a learning experience for zoo staff and wildlife officials. Bruce’s development and progress will provide vital information about the endangered bats. Biologists are still working to discover key elements in the bat’s lifestyle: such as diet and roosting habits.

Although it is not known how Bruce was separated from his mother, there is speculation that recent tree trimmings in the area could have disturbed his roost. The time of year baby Bruce was found also provides previously unknown information for biologists. The baby bat was found in November, suggesting that the Bonneted Bats’ birthing season lasts longer than was suspected.

The Florida Bonneted Bat is native to the southern portion of Florida, excluding the Florida Keys. Previously known as Wagner’s Mastiff Bat, the bat was reclassified, in 2004, as a separate species, unique to Florida. They are classified as ‘Endangered’, by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.


Baby Bats Rescued from Australia's Heat Wave

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Some may like it hot, but not Australia’s Fruit Bats.  A spring heat wave with temperatures over 100 degrees F has killed many adult Fruit Bats, leaving their babies orphaned and in need of care.  That’s why the Australian Bat Clinic and Wildlife Trauma Center has been inundated with rescued baby Bats in recent months.

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Entire colonies of Gray-headed Flying Foxes and Black Flying Foxes have been wiped out due to the extremely high temperatures.  Often, when the mothers die, their babies are still attached to their teats.  Without immediate rescue, these babies will face the same fate as their mothers.

When the baby Bats enter rehabilitation, rescuers’ first jobs are to help the babies feel secure and to feed them.  The rubber nipples tucked into the babies’ mouths help them feel as if they are still attached to their mothers’ teats.  When the babies are wrapped in tiny blankets (causing the babies to resemble little Bat burritos), they feel safe in their temporary home.  A little affection from the rescuers helps too.

After a few months, rescuers will release the baby Bats back into the wild. 

Flying Foxes are Bats that feed primarily on fruit, pollen, and nectar.  The world's 60 species of Flying Foxes are found in tropical regions.  Unlike insect-eating bats, which are usually smaller in size, Flying Foxes do not use echolocation to find food.  Instead, they have well-developed senses of smell and eyesight.  Many species of Flying Fox are threatened with extinction due to illegal hunting and persecution.

See more photos of the baby Bats below.

Continue reading "Baby Bats Rescued from Australia's Heat Wave" »


Ghost Bat Stories at Taronga Zoo

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Taronga Zoo, in Australia, is celebrating its first successful birth of a Ghost Bat pup in 15 years! 

Ghost Bat Pup_Photo by Vanessa Stebbings (1)

Ghost Bat Pup_Photo by Vanessa Stebbings (3)

Ghost Bat Pup_Photo by Vanessa Stebbings (4)Photo Credits: Vanessa Stebbings/ Taronga Zoo

Born last month, the pup is the first for Taronga’s new breeding pair, ‘Celeste’ and ‘Nocturne’. The birth is also an encouraging sign for the regional breeding program for this vulnerable species.

Despite the challenges of breeding Ghost Bats, keepers are pleased with the progress of the pup, which can already be spotted on display at the Zoo’s Australian Nightlife exhibit.

Keeper, Wendy Gleen, said it may be a little while until keepers can determine the sex of the pup, so they are yet to choose a name. “The pup has been clinging to its mother for warmth and security, clutching onto her neck with its back legs,” said Wendy.

Ghost Bats are Australia's largest microbat, and their only carnivorous bat, preying on large insects, frogs, birds, lizards and small mammals, including other bats. As predators, they are important in the control of rodents, especially house-mice. Their name comes from the beautiful ‘ghost-like’ appearance of their wings in the moonlight.

Populations are under threat in the wild due to the loss of feeding habitat and destruction of caves and old mine shafts. “Ghost Bats are particularly vulnerable to mining, which can threaten their maternity caves,” said Wendy.

Wendy also said the birth of the pup provides a great opportunity for visitors to see these stunning but elusive creatures up close. “Ghost Bats are difficult to spot in the wild, as they often live in complete darkness and hide in remote caves. They’ve got the most amazing facial structures and use echolocation to find their way in the dark. Our modern sonar systems could probably learn a thing or two from these bats’ natural talents,” she said.

Continue reading "Ghost Bat Stories at Taronga Zoo" »


Ruby The Red Flying Fox Is In Great Hands After A Rough Beginning

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Ruby is a 3-week-old little Red Flying Fox who was rescued from the roadside, after losing her mother from a car strike.

Ruby was born on the side of the road in Qld, Australia and she would have surely died if not for the dedicated volunteers from 'Bat Conservation & Rescue Qld'. Ruby's carer (Denise Wade), was quick to attend to Ruby's needs becoming the orphaned bat's replacement mother.

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Juvenile flying foxes require a lot of time, attention and affection to survive. They form very close bonds and will often vocalize to communicate with their new carers. 

During her time in care Ruby will learn to fly, socialize with other bats in care, develop her independence and eventually be released to join a wild colony of little Red Flying Foxes.

Flying Foxes are a keystone species in Australia, responsible for the pollination of native forests, and the propagation of new plant growth via seed dispersal. Despite their ecological importance they are currently under threat in Australia due to loss of habitat, urbanization and a negative image in the media.

You can help: www.bats.org.au

For more updates on Ruby and other Flying Foxes: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Batzilla-the-Bat/445796495553687?fref=nf

Never touch or approach bats unless you are a vaccinated carer/rescuer.


Auckland Zoo Goes Batty!

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New Zealand's Auckland Zoo is celebrating the successful breeding and rearing of Lesser Short-tailed Bat twins. It's the first time this threatened endemic New Zealand species has ever been bred and hand-reared in a zoo. They are known as Pekapeka in Māori. 

The tiny Short-tailed Bats, a male and a female, were born in mid-November weighing a tiny 4 grams—less than a U.S. nickel!—and are now a healthy adult weight of around 14 grams.

New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine (NZCCM)Clinical Services Coordinator Mikaylie Wilson says, "While very rare to produce twins (one pup is usual), their mother had given birth to twins earlier but they did not survive. From this experience, we knew she wasn't able to cope with raising two, so the decision was made to pull the first twin at two days, and then the second at two weeks. The second pup was failing to thrive so we pulled it as well."

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3 batPhoto credit: Ian Fish (1,2) / Auckland Zoo

See a video of the baby bats being cared for:

 

Wilson, who has experience hand-rearing bats in Australia, set up the program for the bats. She says, "We had a portable incubator that closely mimicked a nursery in the wild, keeping them warm and secure. The temperature of the incubator was at 28-29 degrees, and we were feeding them every four hours."

Mikaylie Wilson cared for the bats for five days straight, before training bird keeper Debs Searchfield started to play mom, feeding and caring for them at home.

Searchfield says, "We were a bit sleep deprived, but it was worth it. It's been such a great success to be part of, it's all very exciting and we've learnt a lot about them. Gaining more husbandry skills, hands-on techniques and knowledge will hopefully help the future of this species and other bats in recovery programs."

The bats' parents are descendants of a population from the Tararua Ranges in the lower North Island. They came from a group that were collected and translocated by the Department of Conservation to Kapiti Island in 2005/6. However, a fungal ear infection meant that this group was not suitable for release and the zoo now displays the only Lesser Short-tailed Bats in captivity.

New Zealand has just two native terrestrial mammals: the Long-tailed Bat and the Short-tailed Bat. Adults use echolocation to navigate and catch prey. Unlike most bats, which catch their prey in the air, the Short-tailed Bat has adapted to ground hunting, and spends lots of time on the forest floor, and folds its wings to use as "front limbs" for scrambling around. They eat insects, fruit, nectar and pollen. The Short-tailed bat is the only pollinator of the rare native plant, thedactylanthus or woodrose. They have a heart rate of 250 to 450 beats per minute while at rest, and 800 beats per minute while flying!


Nile Bat Buddies Hang Out at Budapest Zoo

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The Budapest Zoo has had this species of Nile Bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) for over twenty years. These fruit-eating bats form large colonies in which there is regular breeding. They mate generally from June to September, and after a four month gestation, one bat is born -or a rare set of twins - around October to December. It takes just a few months to wean them. As a result of the zoo'slarge colony, there are babies and sometimes a pup or two may need special assistance from the staff. Just recently two baby bats were in need of extra care. They were nursed through the stage of learning to eat solid food successfully and have now been happily feeding on the fruits offered and "hangin'" out together! 

Unlike most fruit bats, Egyptian bats use echolocation: when flying in darkness they utter high-pitched buzzing and listen to its echo off of nearby objects. They use this echo to located and identify objects.

Also known as the Egyptian Bat, The Nile is one of the most well-known of fruit-eating bats. They are found in the wild not only along the Nile but in many parts of Africa, Asia Minor and the Middle East. Males are larger than females. They grow up to 7 inches in adulthood, weighing up to 6 ounces. An interesting fact: the Nile Bat is mentioned in the oldest written records - heiroglyphics - and again were described by French scholar, Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1772-1844) in the wake of Napoleon's Egyptian campaign.

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Photo Credit: Budapest Zoo


Meet Blossom The Baby Bat!

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Blossom the bat recently came into care following a suspected cat attack. Louise Saunders from Bat Conservation & Rescue Queensland took care of little Blossom, who recovered beautifully and was eventually released back into the wild.

Blossom Bats are nectar specialists which feed and groom themselves with the aid of their long tongues. They are known to hover in front of flowers as they forage and are important pollinators of many rainforest plants. A baby at the time of arrival, the little bat was fed a nectar mix recipe and the occasional milk formula. Blossom gradually gained weight and began to practice flying during the night. Often she would dart in and out of rooms and even hover above Louise as she slept before retiringto her little brown bag at dawn.

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Photo Credit: Bat Conservation & Rescue Qld

Blossom bats are currently under threat due to loss of feeding and roosting habitat from clearing of forests for agriculture and housing estates.  This Blossom was released on Macleay Island in Qld, Australia.

Watch the little one in action:

 See many more pictures and hear from her caregiver after the fold:

Continue reading "Meet Blossom The Baby Bat!" »


Bat Baby Hangs Out For Halloween

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Zeke the baby Variable Flying Fox was born recently at Lubee Bat Conservancy. Bats make up one fifth of all  mammals (1,116 species). They are among the most endangered of the world's creatures, primarily because much of their habitat has been eliminated by human encroachment or because they are over hunted for food or persecuted as pests or disease carriers. Their loss has serious consequences for the ecosystems to which they belong because bats are important seed dispersers and pollinators for many native flowering plants, and key insect predators globally.

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Photo credit: Lubee Bat Conservancy


I Vant Them! Baby Vampire Bats!

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Two new vampire bats were born at The Philadelphia Zoo on March 9 and April 7, 2011. Though they ususally nurse for only three months, the babies are still able to be seen clinging to their mothers and are still nursing on her milk, as seen above. This one does look kind of cute and fuzzy in it's own way These bats do drink blood, so their teeth are few, but razor sharp. In the wild they hunt at night --usually feeding off sleeping cattle or horses -- and drink for about 30 minutes.

Bats have two means of locomotion: They are the only mammals that can fly, and the vampire bat is also able to run.Their small but strong legs can reach speeds up to 4.9 miles per hour!  The common vampire bat is found in the tropics of Mexico, Central America, and South America.

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Photo Credit: Philadelphia Zoo

Take a look at this video to see them in action, and learn more about this fascinating species: