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Teaching Bats To Fly

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Teaching Bats To Fly

Postby Ahusaka » Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:12 am

Hi, I'm hoping you can help me. I live in Singapore with a family of Common or Lesser Dog-faced Fruit bats nesting in my porch roof. Every so often, a baby falls from the roost and we try to return it to the parents - sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The last time was unsuccessful so I have been taking care of the bat myself. He is now weaned, eats pretty much the same local diet as his family(I handpick and hang local fruits from a perch for him) and he can hang, turn etc. I handle him as little as possible, since he is a wild animal and I don't want to make him a 'pet'. He lives outside literally a few feet from the rest of his family, but unfortunately I've had to put him in a large cage to keep him safe from our cats if he should fall from his perch again. I now need to teach him to fly so that he can 1) hang free and be safe from cats WITHOUT a cage protecting him, and 2) fly away, feed himself, start his own roost. The only information I can find on teaching a bat to fly is that I should swoop him up and down on a perch. I haven't had much success with that and was hoping that you had some ideas, or could put me in touch with someone. I've had some very good wing flaps from him inside the house under the wind from the ceiling fan, although its clearly dangerous as he may get caught in the fan, or get trapped indoors. Obviously outside lessons are preferable but I get little response from him outside.

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Teaching Bats To Fly

Postby Fearnhamm » Sat Apr 01, 2017 8:33 pm

Dear Libby

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites and books I used.

Volume 29 of the Marshall Cavendish 'Animal World' says that young fruit bats grow quickly and can begin to fly and fend for themselves when they are 2-3 months old. During the weeks before this happens, the young hangs upside-down and flaps its wings. This builds up its muscles. When it is ready, it lets go of the roost branch and drops. If it hits the ground, it can climb up a tree and try again. It learns unaided and doesn't seem to follow the actions of its mother or other group members. http://www.flyingfoxconservationfund.com/fruit-bats/bat-body.html says that young fruit bats learn to fly at the age of 3 months, at which time they accompany their mothers on their nightly foraging to learn how to locate food and what they can eat.

Your bat may be learning to fly and falling off his perch is a natural part of the process. Hopefully, it will improve its muscles so that it can fly unaided. If it doesn't seem to be improving, I would suggest that you contact a wildlife veterinarian. The bat may have a torn wing or there may be some other physical reason why it cannot fly. I think it would also be a good idea to check the bat for disease, as bats can carry diseases that affect people. http://www.ava.gov.sg/AnimalsPetSector/CITESEndangeredSpecies/ says that you need a permit to keep some exotic pets. I suggest that you get legal advice as soon as possible to clarify if you are allowed to keep a bat.

I know several people who have nursed bats with only one wing. If you cannot do this, it may be best to ask a wildlife charity to look after it(see http://www.batworld.org/pet_bat.html for additonal advice).

At the moment, it seems that the bat needs some more space to develop its muscles so it can fly unaided, but please contact a wildlife veterinarian check it is healthy and does not have any problems with its muscles and wings.

All the best

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