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A Bat's Life

We want to share a unique, sad, and inspiring story with you to close out Bat Appreciation Month. This October, a local wildlife enthusiast called us to help with an injured bat in his backyard. After reaching the appropriate authorities, animal control, and the Tucson Wildlife Center (TWC), this homeowner still needed help transporting the wounded bat. Our wildlife preserves coordinator Cholla Rose Duir, professionally trained in animal handling, safely transported this injured bat to the Tucson Wildlife Center for further treatment.

Bat hanging from tree.

Along her way from Patagonia to Tucson, Cholla reached out to "the bat lady," Debbie Buecher. Debbie is a bat biologist and has been researching bats for decades in the southwest. Debbie was able to meet Cholla at the TWC and perform an exam on the bat. It was determined that the bat was a female juvenile Mexican long-tongued bat of a healthy weight. It was also determined that the bat's injuries included a compound fracture to the left wing, a critical injury under the best circumstances. Unfortunately, the veterinary community and bat biologists have not been able to successfully duplicate the complicated diet of nectar-feeding bats such as the Mexican long-tongued bat and the Lesser long-nosed bat. The kindest thing to do was feed this special little bat a meal of some sugar water and humanely euthanize her. Her only other option was starvation in captivity or the wild.

Injured bat.

Many species' habitats and diets cannot be duplicated successfully in captivity, making land conservation, native plant, and habitat restoration critical for continued diversity and functional ecosystems. Borderlands Restoration Network works to support the nectar-feeding bats, Mexican long-tongued bat, Choeronycteris Mexicana, and Lesser long-nosed bat, Leptonycteris yerbabuenae. Across the borderlands on both sides of the border through our partnership with Bat Conservation International and our agaves for bats project through Borderlands Nursery & Seed. These efforts work to restore agaves, an important food source for these once-endangered migrating bats that rely on the flowering agaves along their travels. To date, BN&S has planted 4,124, and counting, agaves across the borderlands, with 1,350 located within the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve.

Bat at the Tucson Wildlife Center.

Although this story has a sad ending, we wanted to highlight and thank all the amazing people who cared and went out of their way for this little bat. Everyone showed the utmost compassion for a bat's life, from the homeowner to the experts. In an ever-changing world with many species on the brink of extinction, this reaction is precisely what we need to continue to share our world with such fragile animals as a bat.

***An important side note to mention is never touching an injured bat. Although rare, bats have been known to transmit rabies to humans. Physical contact with a bat can lead to the bat's death and the potential for rabies transmission to humans. If you find an injured bat, do not touch the bat and call your local animal control office or contact Tucson Wildlife Center's 24-hour hotline. ***

You can help bats by planting native vegetation around your home, eliminating the use of pesticides, and turning off unnecessary outdoor lights. Additionally, you can learn more about specific bat species and how to help bats by visiting the website of one of our partners, Bat Conservation International.

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