A few months ago we discovered we had an uninvited guest living on the 3rd floor of the Museum of Life + Science. During the cold of winter a big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus, was found snoozing near some storage areas in the museum’s attic. We did not release the bat immediately because the likelihood of it surviving was very low. This species normally hibernates much of the winter and would not normally be seen outside in colder months.
Luckily, we had an empty exhibit that just happened to be a former bat environment. If you have ever been to Carolina Wildlife you may remember the darkened area when you first come through the sliding doors. Our “guest” bat moved into the first nocturnal exhibit right next door to the screech owls.
Right: Our bat visitor hanging out in the Carolina Wildlife exhibit.
Now that warm weather has arrived we knew it was time to let the bat go back to the wild. Before we released him we gave him a quick visual exam, paying careful attention to the condition of his wings. At left you can see Keeper Jill holding the bat’s wing out for examination. The wing membrane of bats stretches from near their ankle bones up over their elbow, wrist and elongated finger bones.
Since the bat appeared to be in good condition we released it at sunset near the woods behind the bear exhibit (where visitors do not go). The bat flew from one tree to another and then flew into this batty looking crevice in the rocks. Hopefully, our bat visitor is now munching down some fresh insects in the wild!
You can learn more about Big brown bats at the Western North Carolina Nature Center’s web page.