Releasing Bats back to the Wild

Content

1) Bats are not pets

 

2)  Releasing - what to consider

 

3)  Releasing of nyctalus noctula born in captivity and after the report additional the releasing of Pipistrellus pipistrellus and Pipistrellus pygmaeus 

 

4)  Why do the bats wear rings?

 

5) Transport box


 

6) Flight Training - rehabilitation

 

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1)  Bats are not pets

 

 

 

Bats are not pets

 

Bats are among the most strictly protected species in Germany and Europe. They may not be persecuted or killed. All wild animals, including bats, are born free and should therefore not being removed from nature. Bats are not pets! Only in their natural habitat bats can live there life and play their important role in the ecological balance of nature.

Unfortunately, there are sometimes accidents with bats that are mostly caused by humans (tree felling, house renovations, traffic accidents with cars, accident with wind-mills, ...) Only this fact justifies us people to take an injured wild animal over a period of time in care. But as soon as a bat is recovered, it must be released close to the place where it was found. The bat can now live wild and free again - hopefully forever.

 

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2)  Releasing bats back to the wild

 




Releasing back to the wild – what to consider!

The release is weather-dependent and depends on the fitness of the bat, too.

Before the release, the animals must be trained for several days after being cured from an injury. The way of live of the animals is important - for example a nyctalus noctula can fly very long distances. Therefore the animals must have a very good physical condition and must be trained very very well. Moreover, their hunting speed is very high, which they must reach in the training, too.
Myotis daubentonii hunt above lakes and rivers, and they need to have a very good condition!

All bats must be able to take off from the ground without any assistance. This is important to survive in the wild! Myotis myotis need to be very quick and it must be easy for them to take off from the ground several times in the trot.

It is important to write down the results of every training-lesson. An animal that can fly well on one day, maybe the next day is no longer fit, perhaps because it had spent the day before all the energy reserves. 
The training must always take place in the evening or at night, in order to make use of the activity phase of the animals. Before the training, the animals must have warmed up themselves. When animals are trained during the day or the trainers have not the patience to wait until the bats are really warmed up, the results of the training won’t show you the real condition of the bat. This could unnecessarily delay the release!


Careful preparation of the release

The weather has to be ok, it should not be so stormy, rainy or frosty.

The animals must be returned to the location where they were found. Bats are very social animals, they know their group members. They also know their habitat and hunting areas.

Just before the period of activity (evening) you should arrive with the animals at the location of release. As soon as the wild bats start flying around, you can release the bat. Make sure, that the bat has warmed up itself before taking off! Should no wild bats appear that evening, it is important to check again whether all the above mentioned conditions (weather / location) are right. If not, it is better to cancel the release! If all factors are positive, the animals can be released into the wild, even when no others bats are flying.

Ideally, you check the area of the planned release one or two days before. Then you get to know exactly the flying time and territory of the wild bats.

For nyctalus noctula(s) you better bring a box with an open entrance hole very high (!) into a tree at the location where the bat should be released. The nyctalus noctula(s) should be placed in that box before sunset. Later on the nyctalus noctula(s) will leave the box by itself/themselves. Once all the animals have left the box, the box can be removed. Make sure, that the box is empty!

 

 

 

 

 

 


For the release their weight has to be ok! They must not be too light, but not too heavy, either.

 

 

 

 

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3) Releasing bats born in captivity

 

Born in captivity – for a life wild and free

Our method how to release in captivity born nyctalus noctula to the wild

When injured pregnant bats come to our station the babies are born in captivity. 
Due to the fact that the motherbats don’t get their natural food in captivity they need to be fed with Esbilac while they are nursing their babies and the babies need Esbilac, too. 
Must in captivity born babies or orphans babies  remain in captivity all their lives? NO! They do not have to, because babies of Nyctalus Noctula are being released to the wild in Switzerland for many years in a proven method by Jürgen Gebhard. We first tried it in 2012 and it worked! Even up to 4-year-old juveniles were successfully released.



1) You spent many many days to train the youngsters how to fly. Only the juveniles who can a couple of days in a row fly well, quickly and perseveringly, become a member of the group which will be released. The others need to be trained again and again until they can join the releasinggroup. The method we used all bats were used to mealworms and able to eat and drink from a bowl. 
2) The juveniles will be marked with nail polish on their claws. NEVER use rings to mark juvenile bats! They are not grown up and the rings will cause serious injuries at the wings! (even adult bats have often injuries because of the rings, so we would like to ask you never to ring a bat!) 

3) The juvenile are put in a releasing box (see picture)

 

 The bigger the group the better it is. Beneath you place one or more closed boxes with one site with a fence (1 mm loop) and in the box you but other nyctalus noctula patients – best the still injured motherbats. The nyctalus nnoctula in the closed boxes call the juveniles back to the station and show them their way back acoustically. VERY IMPORTANT! You have to make sure that the nyctalus noctulas in the closed boxes get enough time to climb, run and practice flying – as much as they can due to their injuries – before and after they are put in the closed boxes. The recovery process of the nyctalus noctula in the closed boxes must go on without limitations. Inside the boxes there must be enough space for all the bats and a possibility to hide as well as food and water. In closed boxes you can only bring bats together who won’t bite each other. 

 

(closed box)

 

After a few nights the juveniles know their way back and you don’t need the closed boxes anymore. 

4) Please, never change the lighting in the surround area of the releasing station. We have seen that the lighting is important for the juveniles to find their way back. 

5) In the releasing station the juveniles get food and water, too.


6) Then it all starts! In the dawn curiously the juveniles start to look out of the releasing station. And then the first bat spread the wings and take off into the night. For the first 8 to 14 days the juveniles just look around and try to hunt insects. Hungry they return to the releasing station where always enough food and water is waiting (you have to make this sure!).


7) Night after night the bats are hunting more successfully and less mealworms will be taken. 


8) Soon the juveniles will disappear into the night – forever? Sometimes they come back after days or weeks and spend one or two days in the releasing station. Some have found friends in the wild and bring them to the station, too. Then they disappear again. They are now all wild and free and can decide for themselves where they want to live. It is important to keep the station open all year round and to have some mealworms and water ready. So in case of emergency the bats can return to the station or spend the winter in the station, if a bat doesn’t find a place for the winter. Our experience in this first season is, that the bats come once in a while for just one or two nights and then get back to the wild for weeks. So this is a good chance for us to see, that the releasing was successful and that the juveniles are able to hunt and to get along with wild bats. 
Wenn Sie Fragen haben schicken Sie uns bitte eine Nachricht, wir helfen gern. 

9) Do you have any questions? Please, feel free to send us a message, we will be happy to help you. 

Bats belong to the wild and it is our duty to do everything we can to enable the bats, born in captivity, a life in freedom.


13 of the in captivity born nyctalus noctula, which were released to the wild this summer, came now back to our releasing station. We checked their weight, renewed their marks (nail polish on their claws) and sat them back to the station which is open to the wild. So they can decide by themselves if they want to stay for the winter in the station or spending the winter in the forests. It was great to see that the nyctalus noctulas born in captivity and released to the wild with the Jürgen-Gebhard-method have survived without any help.

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Babies-releasing of Pipistrellus pipistrellus and Pipistrellus pygmaeus 


The Pipistrellus pipistrellus and Pipistrellus pygmaeus who were brought as orphaned babies to our bat station were there looked after by the vet Dr. Keil and the team to prepare the bats for a life in freedom.


This preparation involves first the initial examination of the juveniles, accommodation in terrariums, the removal of parasites, then the daily care, the beginning of specialty milk feeding in 2-3 hour intervals, regular medical checks and at advanced age the flight training. Every little one has also been taught to eat mealworms independently from the bowl. This is necessary because when they will be released they need to take independently additional mealworms out of bowls in the releasing boxes to cover the missing hunt success in their first two weeks of hunting training (normally they get additional milk from their mothers. Although the hunting is innate, but it must be practiced by the subadults. 

After learning the independent feeding from the bowl the young bats were placed in the outdoor aviary to familiarize themselves with the surroundings of the local conditions (optical and acoustic). 

There they were all kept together in the aviary so that they could get to know each other and already could form larger groups, which corresponds to the natural behavior of the animals living in colonies. At the age of 4-5 weeks, the daily flight training that was monitored with nightly inspections, began. The successful bats were labeled with nail polish on the thumb claws and when the flight training was a couple of days in a row successful the subadult bats were set in groups in one of the open releasing boxes that are located right next to the their aviary. This happended at a time with good weather conditions in August. In the releasing boxes  the animals were still supported with food and water. In the evening the flight excursions of the animals were observed and tracked by detectors. On the following day the animals returned to the releasing boxes and were controlled by our vet. The animals have taken the extra food / water supply in the releasing boxes. Especially in the first two days the empty bowls and large amounts of droppings in the boxes indicated that the hunting success was probably still very low. The other nights were just procedural. From day to day the animals took less food from the station, because their hunting success was getting better. In different bat quarters next to the aviary the bats hat many possibilities to find a sleeping place for the day. At night the little ones often flew around the aviary, probably they heard the bats which where not released at that time – this could be an important guidance.

Meanwhile, the subadult bats are independent. They are still frequently heard at night. 


A total of 73 young bats could be released in 2015. All bats were carefully marked with nail polish at the thump claws. This innocuous marker holds up to several weeks. So far there has been no live or dead animals found who had the mark, so that the realsing was successful and the bats are now living wild and free. 


The bats who did not fly well enough to get released this year, will be trainined again and again so that they can make it to freedom next year.  The releasing later this year is not possible, because the time until Winter comes would be too short fort he little ones for hunting exercises and finding colony connection and winter quarters 


We thank Hoppe-Behncke-Stiftung for the support of the project.


If you like to support our project, too, please click here: region-hannover.bund.net/themen_und_projekte/fledermaeuse/bats_in_the_hanover_region/

Thank you!

 

(Dr. med. vet. Renate Keil)

 

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4)  Why do the bats wear rings? 

 

The rings are used to distinguish the animals, so that each animal gets the right medical treatment and training. Before the animals are released back to the wild, the rings will be removed. Rings can cause injuries in the wings, which, if infected, could be fatal without medical treatment. The ring injuries occur regardless of the person bringing the ring on the bat or the ring load. Animals in the wild would be helpless with these injuries. For this reason we take the rings off before we release the animals to the wild.

 

The ring shifted after months too close to the elbow and got stuck there. In the wild, the animal would have died due to the restricted wing function. We recommend not to ring wild bats.

 

 

Espectinus serotinus leaves the bat station back to the wild. For this purpose the ring taken off. This process is not painful for the animals. The bat is released at the locality where it was found. We Thank FlezArt for the photo.

 

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5)  transport box

 

 

 

 

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6)  flight training - Rehabilitation

After the bats are cured their muscels need to be trained to make them fit for a life back in the wild. 

Bildunterschrift hinzufüNyctalus noctula is warming up for his Training session. 

Nyctalus noctula ready to start their flight Training. 

This nyctalus noctula is too low to the ground. This is a sign of bad condition. 

High and fast curves are a sign of good fitness. Nyctalus noctula fly long distances in the wild and so they must show this good flight condition for several consecutive days in. Often the animals are tired on the second or third day of training, because the fitness is not good enough yet to survive the wild.

 

  This nyctalus noctula trains to start from the ground. This is very important for a bat to survive in the wild. 



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