||This page has been prepared for the "UK
Wildlife: First Aid and Care" Wildpro module, and is designed for the
needs of the following species: Bechstein's bat - Myotis
bechsteinii, Brandt's bat - Myotis
brandtii, Brown long-eared bat - Plecotus
auritus, Daubenton's bat - Myotis
daubentonii, Greater horseshoe bat - Rhinolophus
ferrumequinum, Grey long-eared bat - Plecotus
austriacus, Large mouse-eared bat - Myotis
myotis, Lesser horseshoe bat - Rhinolophus
hipposideros, Noctule - Nyctalus
noctula, Lesser noctule - Nyctalus
leiseri, Nathusius' pipistrelle - Pipistrellus
nathusii, Natterer's bat - Myotis
nattereri, Northern bat - Eptesicus
nilssoni, Particoloured bat - Vespertilio
murinus, Pipistrelle - Pipistrellus
pipistrellus, Serotine - Eptesicus
serotinus, Western barbastelle - Barbastella
barbastellus, Whiskered bat - Myotis
The UK bat species are from the families Rhinolophidae,
- Offer a rehydration (electrolyte) solution such as Lectade (Pfizer Limited) to drink on
admission once the bat has warmed up.
- Offer from a paintbrush initially.(V.w28)
- Water should be freely available at all times unless the casualty is unconscious or
severely debilitated and unable to hold its head up.
- Both water and a rehydration (electrolyte) solution, in separate containers, should be
made available initially.
- Water or electrolyte solution may be given initially using an artists brush, blunt-ended
catheter tip, as a drip from a finger tip, round ended pipette, soaked cotton wool bud, or
by placing the lips of bat on the edge of small receptacle containing water.(P19.1.w7)
- A shallow dish placed on the floor is an appropriate container for offering fluid to
- Water bottles with a nozzle as used for rodents may be accepted and used by some
individuals, as may the plastic dispensers with a small open section at the bottom used
for cage birds.(B168.7.w7)
- If hand feeding offer water from the moistened tip of a paintbrush or
using a blunt-ended catheter after each hand feed.
- Care must be taken not to supply fluids at too fast a rate which can
increase the likelihood of aspiration of fluids.
Suggested convalescent diets include:
- Body contents of mealworms Tenebrio molitor larvae mixed with water.
- May need to be given every hour to very weak bats.
- May be fed using the moistened tip of a small artists brush.
Mealworm contents: As bats become stronger.
- Squeeze body contents of mealworms directly into the mouth of the bat, having chopped
the head off the mealworm.
- Feed at least three times daily, with as much as the bat will take.
- Vitamin-mineral supplement e.g. Vionate (E.R.
Squibb and Sons Limited) at 1mg per gram of bat per day may be given by applying
the supplement to the food immediately before it is eaten.
- Tinned cat/dog food and scrambled egg have been used in emergencies as a short term diet
until more suitable alternatives become available.
Short term Maintenance Diet:
Suggested short term maintenance diets include:
- Initial feeds generally consist of the insides of mealworms, fed by
chopping the head off the mealworm and squeezing the contents into the mouth of the bat.
- Whole mealworms are used most commonly.
- Offer bats as many mealworms as they are willing to take in one feed
- feed three times daily until the bat starts self-feeding; this is usually
about two days for adults.(V.w28)
- Leave about 20 mealworms on the floor of the bat's container.
- Killed mealworms should be fed.(V.w28)
- Bats may need to be taught to eat mealworms:
- The mealworm is decapitated and held out to the bat in fingers or
- Once the viscera have been licked up by the bat, the exoskeleton is
pushed into its mouth.
- While it is chewing, the bat's nose is brought into contact with a dish
- The dish of mealworms is then left in the cage with the bat.
- Several sessions may be required to teach the bat to feed from the dish.
- Free-hanging bats such as Rhinolopus
hipposideros - Lesser horseshoe bat, Rhinolopus
ferrumequinum - Greater horseshoe bat will not go to a dish on the
floor. An elevated dish may be used. It is more likely that hand feeding will be required.
- The nutritional value of mealworms may be improved if they are kept in
dog meal rather than bran, and are supplied with bread and with vegetables rich in
ascorbic acid (N.B. bats are unable to synthesise ascorbic acid).
- Bats may refuse to eat mealworms which have been fed on cabbage.(B168.7.w7)
- Diets such as Mealworm Diet Calci-Paste (International Zoo Veterinary
Group) have been designed for feeding to mealworms to increase their calcium content.
- A vitamin/mineral supplement such as Nutrobal (Vetark
Animal Health), SA37 (Intervet
UK Ltd.) or Vionate (E.R.
Squibb and Sons Limited- 1mg per gram of bat per day) should be added to the
mealworms before they are given to the bats.
- Calcium supplementation should be increased for pregnant and lactating
- Other insects should be added to the diet if possible.
- Moths for Plecotus
auritus - Brown long-eared bat, Plecotus
austriacus -Grey long-eared bat (moths may be caught using a light
- Waxworm Galleria mellonella larvae may be useful for juveniles
and smaller bat species.
- Blowfly larvae or pupae.
- Early instars of crickets or locusts may be used for the larger species
Suggested alternative foods include:
- Tinned catfood or dogfood may be used as a substitute if mealworms are
- The jelly from canned pet food is particularly palatable to some bats.(V.w26)
- A "bat glop" made from cottage cheese, banana, hardboiled egg,
vitamins, + cat or dog food, mixed with a blender to a firm crumbly consistency has
been used as a substitute for mealworms, but is considered definitely "second
- If such a mixture is used, some mealworms must still be given as chitin
in the diet appears to be important for digestion.
In an emergency:
- Tinned cat food or dog food may be used.
- Scrambled egg.
- Chopped or finely grated liver may be used as a short-term substitute.
- May need hand feeding four times daily using tweezers.
- Leave killed mealworms and other insect larvae as an ad libitum
- Insect larvae may be killed by squeezing the head using a pair of
- Provide food ad libitum while rehabilitating casualties.
- Noctules and serotines (body weight 25-40g) required about 40-58
mealworms per day (8g per day) in summer (e.g. August, September), but only 8g per week in
winter when hibernating much of the time.(B168.7.w7)
- Pipistrelles: recommended amounts vary:
- A pipistrelle requires about 8-10 mealworms per day in summer. (B168.7.w7)
- Pipistrelle may eat up to 60 mealworms per day. (V.w28)
- Doubled quantities are required by lactating females.(B168.7.w7)
N.B. obesity is a recognised problem in bats kept in
captivity for long periods of time. Daily weighing and comparison with normal weights for
the species should indicate if excessive weight gain is occurring.
|Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
- Oral rehydration (electrolyte) solutions are widely available from veterinary suppliers
- A basic oral rehydration (electrolyte) solution may be made by dissolving one
tablespoon of sugar and one teaspoon of salt in one litre of water.(B203)
- Mealworms and other live foods, and appropriate dietary vitamin/mineral supplements, may
be bought from some petshops and from specialist live food suppliers.
- Mealworm Diet Calci-Paste: (International Zoo Veterinary Group, Keighley,
- Nutrobal (Vetark
Animal Health, PO Box 60, Winchester, SO23 9XN)
- SA37 (Intervet
UK Ltd., Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 0FP)
- Vionate (E.R.
Squibb and Sons Limited)