Bat and dormouse rescue and rehabilitation

Kari Bettoney has recently joined our Ecology team in Exeter. Alongside her day job she does amazing work running the Mid Devon Bat Rescue centre. We asked her to share with us her love for bats and her commitment to their rehabilitation.

I have been a bat carer since 2015 and run Mid Devon Bat Rescue, which is a small self-funded rescue that I run with the help of my bat ambulance driver team.

I currently have in care soprano and common pipistrelles, a whiskered bat, a brown long eared bat and a Brandt’s bat. Of these, the Brandt’s, common pipistrelles and one of the soprano pipistrelles are long term disabled bats that cannot be released and are used as education bats. During 2017, I hand reared 9 baby pipistrelles that could not be reunited with their mothers.

Did you know, Brandt’s bats are record breakers and have been recorded as living for up to 40 years!

Hazel the Dormouse

I also have a young female dormouse (called Hazel) that I hand reared from 16 days old. She was found at a National Trust property plant nursery, clinging to a plant label, being photographed by members of the public and sniffed by their dogs. The rangers took her and placed her in a box with food and water and then called me as I have rescued bats from their site before.

As it was early October I was expecting an adult dormouse, which I would have health checked and weighed and released into suitable habitat if all was well. I was very surprised to open the box and find a baby dormouse! I asked the rangers to search for a nest in the plant area and none was found. The plants in the nursery are brought in from an off-site supplier so I could not be sure that her mother was nearby. Therefore, I could not release her back to the wild as it could constitute abandonment.

She was very dehydrated, so I rehydrated her and then hand reared her using the same equipment and raw goats milk that I use for baby bats. She came in at 6g when she was 16 days and has now reached 16g and is starting to look plump!

You can see a video of Hazel the dormouse drinking her milk at 17 days old on the Mid Devon Bat rescue YouTube channel.

There are also lots of videos of bats on the channel including one of Tarquin, a baby bat sfrom 2016 (make sure sound is on).

Bat rescue

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) run a helpline (0345 1300 228) that is open from 9am-10pm during the summer months and 9am-5pm during the winter. The helpline gives out details of local carers to people who find bats. There is a network of carers all over the UK and new carers and ambulance drivers are always needed.

There are training courses running all over the UK for people interested in becoming bat carers. There are also support networks on Facebook and elsewhere where knowledge is shared and people can get help with individual bats. There are also two guides for bat carers – one recently updated by BCT and was crowd funded.

Bats come into care for many reasons, including being discovered during building works, cat attacks, bats stuck to flypaper, grounded bats, orphaned juveniles, bats hit by cars and underweight bats who have for some reason been unable to forage.

Want to know more?

If you are interested in becoming a carer then BCT provide help and guidance which can be viewed on their website. Alternatively, please feel free to contact Kari for more information.

Further information and videos can be viewed on the Mid Devon Bat Rescue website and also on their YouTube channel or Facebook page.

Visit our Ecology web page to find out more about our team’s work. Earlier in the year we undertook hibernation checks at a bat roost in Devon. Read more about this story in our Knowledge Hub.

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