Roughly 2,000 bats are still recovering after suffering hypothermic shock during last week’s freeze that sent them falling from the Waugh Bridge. Today, however, hundreds of them will be released back into nature. On Friday, just two days before Christmas, Houston, much like the rest of the country, got smacked with winter weather that included plunging temps leaving residents miserable and wildlife reeling.
That same day the Houston Humane Society (HHS) was tasked with scooping up the bats that had fallen from the Waugh Bridge in Buffalo Bayou Park after experiencing what’s known as hypothermic shock.
Mexican Free-Tailed Bats
Mexican free-tailed bats live between the crevices of the Waugh Bridge, just like they do at the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge spanning Lady Bird Lake in Austin. While these structures can make excellent maternity wards for raising bat pups, they’re not warm enough to protect the small creatures from freezing weather. When their bodies go into shock, they fall onto the pavement, similar to iguanas in south Florida dropping from trees when they can’t handle the cold.
Houston Humane Society
According to HHS, the bats were placed in warming boxes and incubators before being administered IV fluids and, later on, food to help them in their recovery. More than 600 of the bats removed on Friday came from the Waugh Bridge, while others were rescued from Pearland and more locations around the city.
The plan is to release all of the animals near where they were found, Houston Humane Society Wildlife Director Mary Warwick noted. ”We have a group of bats from Pearland and Waugh. We’ve kept them separate, so they’ll each get released back to their colonies,” Warwick explained. “They are colonial. They know each other. Very social. We are not mixing the bats.”
Bat Colony Benefits
The Mexican free-tailed bats are essential to Texas-area ecosystems due to their native status. In fact, they’re the official flying mammal of the state. They consume massive amounts of moths and mosquitos nightly, helping to maintain balance with the insect world. This particular colony consists of around 250,000 bats, and they can attain speeds of 99 mph!
Experts advise the public that if you see one that may be suffering from the cold, don’t touch it. Rather, they suggest you slide it into a shoebox or other small container to keep it warm and dry before calling the Houston Humane Society’s wildlife department at (713) 468-8972 for further instructions.Whizzco