Posts Tagged 'bats'

Animal Health Update: Bat Procedure Going Spook-tacularly Well!

national aquarium animal expert update

Common images evoked during this spooky time of year include pumpkins, black cats, and – of course – bats!

national aquarium flying fox

The species of bats native to North America are small, quick flying, highly maneuverable and typically eat insects. These are the types of bats the use echolocation to hunt their food and are the ones generally portrayed in these spooky images.

However, in many other parts of the world, bat species are large, slow-flying frugivores (fruit-eaters). These bats do not use echolocation to find food. And these are the types of bats we have here at the Aquarium. We have grey-headed flying foxes (so called because of their triangular, fox-like faces). This is the largest bat species in Australia. They can weigh up to 2 pounds and have wing spans that are as wide as 3 feet.

We are currently treating one of the bats for a small abscess on his face. Right now keepers are “hot-packing” it daily and it’s definitely improving.

national aquarium bat procedure

To positively reinforce him for staying still while they apply the hot-pack, my team provides him juice or a bit of baby food. This type of reinforcement training is integral to our care of the animals.

Did you know that you can train your pets to voluntarily participate in their care (such as nail trimming, vaccines, blood draws) and even look forward to it? I’d love to have you share your stories about what husbandry behaviors you and your pets are doing.

Blog-Header-LeighClayton

Ayers the bat recovers from surgery

Thanks to the help of the Aquarium’s veterinary staff and Dr. Anne Minihan, a surgical specialist from Chesapeake Veterinary Surgery Ayers the Bat - blogSpecialty, Ayers, a grey-headed flying fox, or fruit bat, is now recovering from a broken wing.

Ayers is a 7 year old flying fox that lives in the Aquarium’s Australia exhibit. In mid-August, he suffered a distal humerus fracture. Ayers’ skin was torn open allowing his humerus bone to protrude through. This type of injury is difficult to stabilize and put Ayers at risk for developing an infection. In bats, the humerus bone is surrounded by tissue that creates the flying surface of the wing, so a cast was not an option.

The best chance Ayers had to regain full function of his wing was to bring in Anne Minihan to complete a surgical fixation. Surgery was performed the day after the fracture occured, and it went very well but the recovery process is a slow one. There are several pins in place to stabilize the bone as it heals.  Ayers has been using his wing and thumb regularly now and is scheduled for another check by the orthopedic surgeon in the next few weeks. Even though Ayers is not fully recovered, the aviculturists in the Australia exhibits have said  he is acting like his batty self again!

Bats are commonly associated with Halloween and tend to frighten many people! Contrary to common believe, bats have no intention of bringing harm to humans. In fact, they do more for us than you may think. Insect-eating bats protect our crops, keeping costs down at the market. Fruit-eating bats help with pollination and seed dispersal, thus providing us with many commercial products and medicines.  Survival efforts are imperative worldwide because bats are such a vital part of our ecosystem. This halloween, celebrate bats!

The truth about bats

Bats are one of the most misunderstood of all creatures, having been long associated with tales of vampiresand other spooky Halloween stories. But did you know bats are actually very amazing and beneficial animals? We’d like you tell the true tale of these  creatures and dismiss any rumors of them being blood suckers, or creepy flying goblins of the night!

Bats are mammals and account for more than 25% of all mammalian species. They are the only mammals capable of true flight. But don’t worry; they aren’t flying around in search of human blood.  70% of all bat species eat insects and most of the remaining 30% eat fruit, pollen, and nectar.

So why are they important to us? Bats are very vital to the ecosystems in which they live. They are considered to be the forgotten pollinators.  The seed dispersal and pollination activities of fruit and nectar eating bats are vital to the survival of rain forests. And here in North America bats account for the removal of more than 5 tons of insects nightly.

Continue reading ‘The truth about bats’


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