Bat Recovers from Cold Stun

provided by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife

Mexian Free-tailed Bat

On January 23, an adult Mexican Free-tailed Bat (22-249) was admitted to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife after being found in a pile of sticks. Upon further inspection, veterinarians suspect the patient was the victim of cold stun.

Cold stunning, also known as hypothermic stunning, occurs when an animal is exposed to harsh temperatures and conditions. The cold temperature causes their bodies to try and conserve as much energy as possible, thus shutting down any non-essential body functions. This can cause mammals such as bats to fall from their roost; reptiles, such as sea turtles, to be unable to swim and thus unable to complete their natural southward migration patterns to warmer waters. It can cause other secondary disease and infection, such as hypothermia, pneumonia, or another systemic disease.

Due to lowering temperatures in the winter, bats may inhabit people’s homes, sheds, and garages to seek warmth. To prevent bats from entering your home, preventative measures can include filling any holes in your home and ensuring that entryways are secured. If a bat is found in your home, call your nearest wildlife center. Volunteers can then be called to the area to remove the bat and provide care in case of illness or injury. Volunteers are vaccinated against the rabies virus and trained to remove the bat safely without causing injury to the bat or themselves.

A Big Brown Bat

Common bats found in Southwest Florida include the Mexican Free-tailed bat, the eastern pipistrelle, the big brown bat, the Seminole, and the evening bat. These bats can range in size (dependent on species) from 3 inches to 16 inches.
Bats are nocturnal and use a method of hunting known as echolocation. This process involves using reflected sound. The bat emits a sound wave that bounces off an object (such as an insect), returning an echo providing the bat with information about the prey’s distance and size. This method is precise and bats can use echolocation to detect a flying insect as far as 20 meters away.

Bats are essential to the local ecology. They eat almost their entire body weight in insects each night to maintain their health. They are a great exterminators for invasive insect species and species of insects that can be harmful to crops, gardens, or farms. In addition, only one percent of bats can catch rabies; this is due to their telomeres, which unlike other animals, never shorten. Shortening telomeres cause aging and, in turn, susceptibility to disease. Less than one tenth of one percent of wild bats have rabies. Bats who do carry the disease become progressively paralyzed, meaning it is harder for them to transmit rabies to humans.

Bats are the only mammals capable of sustained flight. Besides cold stun, bats come into CROW due to being hit by cars, window strikes, or getting stuck in a person’s home and injured. Although misunderstood, these animals are excellent at ridding the environment of harmful pests. A recent study showed bats have an economic value of over four billion dollars a year because of their non-toxic pest control in agricultural areas.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (1/14-1/21):
There were 23 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including a common loon, four brown pelicans, a double crested cormorant, seven eastern cottontails, three eastern screech owls, a marsh rabbit, a mourning dove, an osprey, three royal terns, and a snowy egret. Recent Releases include a Mexican free-tailed bat, a great egret, an anhinga, and an osprey. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases.

Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance. Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year.

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

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