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.
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.