Holy icy chill, Batman! Freezing bats saved in Texas

Crowds watch as Mexican Free-tailed bats are released at the Waugh Bridge in Houston, Texas, on December 28, 2022
Crowds watch as Mexican Free-tailed bats are released at the Waugh Bridge in Houston, Texas, on December 28, 2022.

It was a rescue worthy of Batman.

A wave of frigid air triggered "hypothermic shock" in a colony of clinging to their roost beneath a bridge in Houston, a sprawling city in Texas.

Nearly frozen, the bats began losing their grip and falling to the pavement from nine meters (30 feet) up, the Houston Humane Society reported on its Facebook page.

The Mexican free-tailed bats "are tiny, and have minimal body fat, so they are not able to live long when laying exposed on the ground in freezing temperatures," the Humane Society explained.

As the cold wave intensified last Thursday, the group launched a bat rescue, gathering up 929 bats from the ground under the Waugh Bridge, and providing them heat and nutrition.

Volunteers joined in the effort and more than 1,500 bats were taken in by the weekend, kept warm at the shelter or in the attic of society wildlife director Mary Warwick.

Most only needed warmth and water, but the most affected were placed in incubators and fed intravenously.

"Amazingly, most of (the) bats have survived," the society said.

  • Mary Warwick, Wildlife Director at Houston Humane Society, releases a bat at the Waugh Bridge  in Houston, Texas
    Mary Warwick, Wildlife Director at Houston Humane Society, releases a bat at the Waugh Bridge in Houston, Texas.
  • Bat watching is a serious activity in Texas, and crowds turned out to watch the release of bats rescued from the polar freeze
    Bat watching is a serious activity in Texas, and crowds turned out to watch the release of bats rescued from the polar freeze.
  • Given a new lease on life, some of the Mexican Free-tailed bats flew off in search of a nibble to eat
    Given a new lease on life, some of the Mexican Free-tailed bats flew off in search of a nibble to eat.

With temperatures climbing to 72 Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) on Wednesday, the society released "close to 700" of the bats back to the bridge, leaving them free to swoop through the skies for insects.

Bat watching is a popular pastime in Texas, and a number of bridges have huge colonies.

The Waugh Bridge in Houston, Congress Bridge in Austin and Camden Street Bridge in San Antonio all draw visitors at dusk, when the bats leave en masse for nightly feeding forays.

© 2022 AFP

Citation: Holy icy chill, Batman! Freezing bats saved in Texas (2022, December 29) retrieved 31 January 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2022-12-holy-icy-chill-batman-texas.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Tampa may be on the move, but the bats under a busy Riverwalk bridge are not

9 shares

Feedback to editors