Racing to save pregnant bats: Bat World rescue group answers the call
In this downtown of old, empty buildings, the Bat World Sanctuary has been racing against time.
For years, bats have been living in the walls, ceilings and ducts of these old buildings, largely undisturbed.
But that is beginning to change.
More of these old buildings are starting to get renovated, bringing the bats into conflict with humans.
For the last six weeks, Amanda Lollar and her team of volunteers, have been conducting rescues around Mineral Wells, finding bats hidden inside the old vacant buildings. Most have been female and many were pregnant or had just given birth.
In one downtown store, bats were hanging against air conditioning vents and inside the ducts. There were also some found in a wall behind a bathroom.
Lollar made a makeshift "ladder" out of lace so more bats trapped on the floor could crawl out overnight. They returned the next day and rescued them.
"It's keeping us very, very busy," Lollar said. "So far, we've rescued over 200 bats over the last six weeks. Many have been critically dehydrated. Some have been on the brink of death."
These issues will continue as more buildings get facelifts in Mineral Wells.
"We knew this was coming," Lollar said. "The whole downtown has been in such a state of decay — it's allowed bats to go into the crawl spaces of a lot of vacant buildings. The bats have just made it a home and nobody really cared about it but now that's changing."
From mid-May to mid-September female bats are giving birth to pups.
"These are not the times you should exclude bats," Lollar said. "If you do, you can leave the young inside to slowly starve to death. They'll end up crawling through vents. You can end up with thousands of little dead bodies in your building and nobody wants that."
Once the Mexican free-tailed bats or Brazilian free-tailed bats are found, they are brought to the sanctuary in rural Parker County east of Mineral Wells where Bat World nurses them back to health and release them into the man-made habitat called the Bat Castle, which is designed to resemble a 100-year-old sandstone building.
The interior is designed to resemble the abandoned buildings from where they were rescued.
The sanctuary also has fruit bats that been rescued research labs, the exotic pet trade or retired from zoos.
In 2016, Bat World earned accreditation from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. The sanctuary was credited by the federation with training more than 400 veterinarians, biologists and zoologists around the world.