Freezing bats plunging to the ground in Texas rescued

Animals will be returned to their natural habitats after spending time in incubators

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More than 1,500 bats will be released to their habitats on Wednesday after spending time in the attic of a Texas humane society director this week.

Hundreds of the flying mammals lost their grip and plunged to the pavement in Houston after going into hypothermic shock during the city’s recent cold snap.

Mary Warwick, the wildlife director at the Houston Humane Society, said she was holiday shopping when freezing winds compelled her to drive under a bridge, where she found more than 100 bats that appeared to be dead.

She collected the bats in a box and was amazed when, on her drive home, they began to come back to life, chirping and moving around in their spot on her heated passenger seat. She put the bats in incubators and returned to the bridge twice a day to collect more.

Two days later, she got a call about more than 900 bats that had been rescued from a bridge in nearby Pearland, Texas. More people showed up to rescue the bats.

Ms Warwick said each of the bats was warmed in an incubator until their body temperatures rose and they were then hydrated through fluids administered to them under their skin.

She soon realised there were too many bats for any one person to care for and the society’s current facilities did not have the necessary space, so she put them in her attic, where they were separated by colony in dog kennels. There, they were able to reach a state of hibernation that did not require them to eat.

“As soon as I wake up in the morning, I wonder: ‘How are they doing, I need to go see them,’ “ Ms Warwick said.

She said more than 100 bats died due to the cold, and others because of the fall from the bridges. Fifty-six are recovering at the Bat World sanctuary and 20 will stay with Ms Warwick a bit longer.

“That would really help in these situations where we continue to see these strange weather patterns come through,” she said of efforts to get a bat room at the human society.

“We could really use more space to rehabilitate the bats.”

Houston reached unusually frigid temperatures last week as an arctic blast pushed across much of the country.

Blizzard conditions from that same storm system are blamed for more than 30 deaths in the Buffalo, New York, area.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: December 29, 2022, 6:35 PM