Houston, TX

Texans banded together to save over 1,500 bats from certain death this winter

B.R. Shenoy

”That would really help in these situations where we continue to see these strange weather patterns come through. We could really use more space to rehabilitate the bats," Mary Warwick, the wildlife director for the Houston Humane Society, said in a video posted to Facebook.

Last week, Houston experienced freezing temperatures as an Arctic blast swept across much of the country.

According to a Facebook video posted by the Houston Humane Society, the Mexican free-tailed bats that roost at Houston's Waugh Bridge went into shock when temperatures dropped below freezing last week. This caused them to lose their grip on their habitat and fall to the ground.

Wildlife rescuers saved them by administering fluids and keeping them warm in incubators. Since December 22, over 1500 bats have been rescued from the Waugh Street Bridge and from Pearland.

According to center director Mary Warwick, the society's Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Center rescued hundreds of bats from beneath the bridge, as well as another group of bats from elsewhere in the Houston area that went into hypothermic shock. She stated that some were being cared for in dog kennels in her attic.

According to The Verge:

“Fortunately, the weather was just right for their release yesterday. The Human Society even set up a Facebook event to invite the public to watch the bats’ homecoming. Some 700 bats were brought back to their colony under Waugh Bridge Wednesday evening. “Hundreds” more were returned to a separate colony at the Pearland Fite Road Bridge in Brazoria County.”

Per NPR:

“The humane society is now working to raise money for facility upgrades that would include a bat room, Warwick added. Next month, Warwick — the only person who rehabilitates bats in Houston — said the society's entire animal rehabilitation team will be vaccinated against rabies and trained in bat rehabilitation as they prepare to move into a larger facility with a dedicated bat room.”

Mexican Free-tailed Bats

Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) are found throughout much of the Americas, including the southern United States, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. They typically inhabit warm, dry environments such as deserts, grasslands, and savannas, and can often be found roosting in caves, abandoned mines, and buildings. 

These bats are important ecologically as they are voracious insectivores, consuming large quantities of insects, including agricultural pests, which helps to control pest populations and improve crop yields. 

Mexican free-tailed bats are also important culturally and economically, as they attract tourists to places where they can be observed, such as the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas.

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