Bat Man Bob Interview 1

Randy: “Hello Everybody, I’m here with Bob the Batman, certainly apprecaite your time today Bob. How are you doing?”

Bob: “I’m doing fine, you’re quite welcome.”

Randy: “Great.”

Bob: “Hopefully we can give enough information to you and your listeners about bats, and what we do, and that kind of thing.”

Randy: “Sure. Thank you for your time. So, why don’t you give me a little brief history about how you got involved with bats please.”

Bob: “Ok, well, I’m also a raptor rehibilatator. And one of the people we work with up by Topeka had a place where we used to take the raptors, and she also took care of mamals. Sometimes Animal Control here in Fort Wayne would get a bat, and we would transport it up to her. Most of the people that aren’t afraid of hawks, and owls and things like that are terrified of bats, so I’d end up taking the bats to her. And she taught me a little bit about bats, and I realized at that time that bats don’t get a whole lot of protection. You know, there’s nobody in there to take care of them. So we kind of percolated the idea about doing a bat rescue and didn’t think a whole lot of it until we got a call from Northcrest that there was a bat hanging on the wall outside of Wild Birds Unlimited. And we went up there and I picked up the bat and of course I had these big welders gloves on there because I’ve heard these stories about how bats bite the heck out of you, and they’re terrors and this kind of thing. Anyway, so I went up and I got the bat, and she just got in my hand, and I brought her home. So I decided what to do with the bat – well, you’ve got to feed them. So I got out the tweezers, and got out the meal worms, and I had the big heavy gloves on, and I put her in my hand, and I’d feed her a worm, then I’d feed her another one, and she took them very nicely, everything was good. Then she would fly around in the house, and you know so, what am I going to do? Well all I’d have to do is put my hand up, and she would land back on my hand, and then I’d feed her a few more worms, and then she would fly around some more, then I’d put my hand up and she would land. And I thought you know, this is pretty smart, you know – figured this out just the first time. Well this particular bat was a Red Bat, they’re migratory to this area. They stay here during the Summer and have their pups here, and then they migrate South to where it’s warmer. So she was on migration, and she just chose to hang on the wall there because it was warm. It was in November. So, after that, Animal Control started calling me. And pretty soon we ended up with some – that was a Red Bat – we ended up with some big Brown Bats. And we got four big Brown Bats, which we named Moe, Larry, Curly, and Shep. And as it worked out Curly was a female, but we didn’t know that til later. So anyways, we had these four Brown Bats, and we found out that those are the clowns of the bat world. Because if they’re in anything they’ll give you a heart attacks because they’ll try to get out. And of course they got out, and we learned a lot about how bats hide and you know, keep out of vision. So even in this small room, four bats hidden and trying to find them – you know, and there wasn’t that much in here at that time. So anyway, we got those, and got accoustomed to them, and pretty soon we were learning stuff. There’s a place in Texas called Bat World, and we would call down to them to get some advice but they don’t do big brown bats down there, they do Mexican Freetail Bats, but still it gave us some information. Pretty soon, people were calling us with bats. We kept getting more and more bats, and we had various types of caging, and stuff like that. Finally we started developing our own solutions to the problems and things. Probably the first year we probably had maybe thirty or fourty bats. You know we were able to repair a few, take care of a few. But before we got into this really seriously we went and contacted a veterinarian to make sure they were willing to help us out. Because most veteranarians don’t like wild life. It isn’t becuse of the animals they don’t like – it’s the fact that they’re peculiar as opposed to domesticated animals and things like that. And also, there’s no money in wild life – the bats don’t pay, the racoons don’t pay, the opossums don’t pay. You know that kind of thing. So anyway, we got a veteranarian who said she’d help us out. So we said ok, fine. So then we started doing rescues, going around rescuing people from bats. Mainly we would get a phone call – someone has a bat in the house. We would either tell them how to get them out, or we would go and rescue the bat and take care of them. Typically the bats we were getting were bats over the Winter time, found the wrong place, wrong time. So when was that 1996, 98 something like that. So it’s been a long time. And since then we’ve had like 1,800 bats that we’ve processed through here of 7 different species. So we get a lot of different species, but mostly what we get are big Brown Bets. They probably make up 9% of what we get. Then we get Red Bats, then after that it’s Quary Bats, Long Haired Bats, Little Brown Bats, you know things like that, Pipistrelles. So we get different kinds. And we’ve learned over the years. So after a year of doing this I went down to Texas. They have a school down there. A bootcamp for bat rehabbers. I spent a week down there learning how to take care of bats. Fortunately I’d already gone through a lot of this myself, so it was like reinforcement. And an introduction to people. You know, so there were some people from Southern Indiana that were there, so now I have some good friends in Texas and Southern Indiana who I can go to you know to get information. So it keeps us busy. So this year alone we took in 126 bats between Thanksgiving and January 1st because we had that real deep freeze and a lot of bats were unprepared for it. So we took them in. But since then we’ve trained a lot of people. We don’t do this just by ourselves. So we have other people out there. Currently in Fort Wayne we have 4 people that take in bats. Typically what we do is farm out the male bats – and we give them the male bats. We take care of the females, because the females may be pregnant when they come in. We figure we can handle the pups and things like that that occur, and we take care of that part of the problem. But also I have now I have people that are trained that live in Chicago, I have somebody who lives in Michigan now, Ohio. I have people kind of spread out because as they came here and they learn, and then they’ve moved on. You know, they’ve moved on to other places. So I have a little I don’t know what you’d call it – a little flock of people out there. Hopefully they’re helping out at other places at other rehab centers. So the one down in Arizona I know she volunteers at one of the places there in Tuscon. And the one in Chicago I know works with – it’s booked to Brookfield somehow. But anyways, we have people out there. So we’re always willing to take volunteers in. But it is labor intensive from the standpoint that you got to take care of them every day. The’re smart little animals. So they figure out how to eat out of those bowls just fine. Some are a little slow, and some get it the first night. But typically when I bring a bat in the first thing we do is we rehydrate them to get their fluid levels up. I give them some Gatorade, I give them a couple of meal worms, and we’re friends. Typically the’re hand tamed the first night. So I can pick them up, work with them. Of course I still wear gloves and everything until I realize how good they are. You still get a few guys a little grouchy like Bert over there, you know, that complain about it a little bit because they don’t still know what’s going on, or they know that they belong outside – they don’t belong in here. Like Burt there – he says I belong a mile from here. So tonight I’ll let him out and he’ll probably be back there. But I’ve told the people and I try to encourage people – if you’ve got bats in you house and they’re not causing you a problem just leave them – they’re in your house because there’s food there for them to eat. You know so… I think I’ve gone overboard huhh? Okay?”

Randy: “You’re fine. Yeah, actually you’ve answered several of my questions, and that’s fine, that’s exactly what we’re trying to get is some of your expertise. So, one other question I would like to ask you is, when you have somebody who finds a bat at home, you know obviously to my listening audience here I have to confess that I have actually had Bob come out and he was kind enough to help me with a bat. I’ve had 3 of them in the house that I live in over the last few years. When somebody finds a bat, what are some things they should not do?”

Bob: “Well, first thing is run and screem!. If you run and screem, the bat thinks there is something large and scary and he panics also, or he’ll go and hide. So the first thing you do if there’s a bat in the house, and the weather’s good outside, you know, Spring, Fall, Summer, what you do is just open doors and windows. They follow air currents. They don’t want to be in your house unless you’ve got something in there to feed them. So basically they want to get out. So the first thing is open doors and windows and let them out. If the weather is inclimate and you can’t let them out, then the thing to do is just let the bat settle. Keep an eye on it, you know, and don’t try to do anything to it. Give me a call. Or the other thing you can do if it’s in a convenient spot you don’t feel bad about, put some gloves on, and take something like a plastic margin bowl, or a box, or something like that. Put that over the bat, slip a piece of cardboard behind the box, and just flip him into the container. And then you have him contained, and then you can either take him outside if the weather’s good, or you can just keep them holded up there for a little bit, and then I can come and get it. And if you get a bat and you take it into your possession, don’t try to feed it, and don’t try to water it, most of the time they’re going to be in really great shape so you don’t have to do anything . But the big thing there is don’t panic, you know, because panicked people make panicked bats. And they’ll just fly all over the place and scare everybody. The other thing is that when you’re trying to get them out of the house, like I said, open the doors or windows. Turn off the lights in the room where the open door is / the open window, ok, turn off the lights in there, and turn on the lights in the surrounding rooms in the surrounding room so that acts like a little barrier, and that kind of forces them in the right direction. And that works 90% of the time. Also, if you open the window to let them out, make sure you have the screen out. We’ve had a couple of those where the bat goes flying out – thunk – runs into the screen, and then have to go get them off of the screen. Most of them in the Summer time, there’s nothing wrong with them, you know, occassionally you’ll find a bat that has a broken bone or something like that, and that’s a little different story. But most of the time they’ll cooperate with you and they’ll go.”

Randy: “Okay. Question with regard to, okay so if there’s viewers or listeners who are outside of the Fort Wayne area, or the North East Indiana area, is there an organization people could call who might like know a local people who can help with situations like this?”

Bob: “Yeah, well, if they call me, we have a few people spread out. I got a couple of individuals up around the South Bend area I have. But most of the time I can the thing done real easily. I have somebody that lives in Warsaw, they help out. And a lot of times I can get some of my volunteers from Sorin Hawk to go out and help out with it. And they’ll get the bat. Yeah, so I have somebody down in Bluffton, yeah so, I have a number of people that will go out.”

Randy: “If somebody listening to this is in say, Colorado, is there, did you say there was a place in Texas that might be a good one to contact as well?”

Bob: “Right, you can contact Bat World. You can go on their website and on their website they have a thing for their local rehabilitators, or people through their rescues. So you know, they have, there’s members, there’s rehabilitator from all over the United States that have gone to Bat World – and you go on there and they can direct you to the nearest rehabilitator. Or you can actually call them – they have a phone number on there if you’re in that area. But, yeah, I’ve gotten some phone calls from some strange places like Texas, New York, places like that, you know, in fact I even got 1 from Ontario last year at this time.

Randy: “Oh – going international?”

Bob: “Yeah, right, and that was kind of funny because the guy had a bat house that had been up for years. He said he never saw any bats, so he went to take it down beacuse he thought he’d fix it up, and sure enough there was a bat inside. So he said ‘What do I do?’ I said well put the bat house back you know, put the bat back you know. Because there’s some of the bats, and a lot of the people in Fort Wayne have these, and the’re what I call Poarch Bats okay. And typically the’re grouchy old guys. They’re males – single males. They usually sleep by themselves, they usually hang on a porch some place. And they just stay there, they go out every night, feed, come back in the morning, go to sleep, leave droppings on your porch you know, that kind of thing. So, this was a single male, which is typical. The males don’t go in colonies or anything like that – so they’re usually individuals. So I told him what to do, and he put his bat house back up, but his bat back into the house and he still has it, so it’s just kind of strange you get the phone calls occassionally – things like that. If you have a poarch bat, what I tell people is put a little pail under them so you catch the guano, the droppings – the droppings will not hurt you. As long as you don’t let it get in great big piles it’s like any other kind of manure. If you let big piles it’s going to get bad but if you – so you put something to catch that guano in, then take that guano and put it in your garden its fantastic fertilizer.

Randy: “Alright, well hey, that’s wonderful, thanks so much for your time. I’m going to wrap things up, but you have a lot more information than I expected, and I’m going to have a part 2 here, so if you’re watching this, or listening to this from your home please stay tuned for part 2. Thank you.