I was having a very busy and stressful day. My father got back home at around 9pm (in Bangladesh, you usually live with your parents until you get married or move to another country). He called everyone in the house and told us to gather around. Then he reached for his laptop bag and brought out a tiny grey thing from the front pocket. It was a baby bat! I am still not sure if it was a fruit bat or insectivorous bat, but it was a bat for sure. It couldn’t fly even when we put it down. It crawled on the table and shrieked when it was held by hand.
My father then told us that he went to the income tax office and on the tenth floor he saw the poor little bat crawling on the floor and people chasing it to kill it. He took the bat, put it in the bag and brought it home. But none of us knew what to do next. I know how to take care of kittens but I don’t have a clue about what to do with a baby bat! My sister tried to feed it milk from her finger but it didn’t work. I vaguely remembered that bats eat bananas. So I told my sister to google it and turned out they do (the fruits bats do at least). So our housemaid fed it tiny pieces of banana from her finger! That was the first time I properly saw its face and oh my god … the baby bat was adorable. It had black beady eyes. The baby bat was so small! Also, I was amazed to see that our housemaid, Mashi, took it upon herself to feed the baby bat. Even I was too scared to touch it. The baby bat shrieked a lot when she was trying to hold her properly but it became quite after eating a little bit of banana.
After it was done eating, I brought out my cat’s plastic basket that had tiny holes on it and a lid, put some paper and old cloth in there, and put the bat inside. Then I did a bit of research online on how to take care of baby bats and found out that lost baby bats are often dehydrated. So I filled a tiny bottle cap with water and put it inside. During my research on bats, I also found out that bats can carry a few types of diseases and a friend of mine also told me the same. I then contacted an animal rights group, who told me that I could try keeping the basket open near a window for the night and see if it flies away. Sadly, they don’t take in wild animals. In fact, I don’t think there is any animal rights organization in Dhaka that takes in wild animals. There are few to begin with and they mostly work for dogs, cats and other domestic animals.
As I was somewhat certain that the baby bat was not injured, I suggested to release it. When we went to take it out, we found out that it was hanging upside down from the side of the basket and sleeping! That just melted our hearts. Who knew how long it was since it ate and how tired it must have been. It could have also been injured or sick internally, which might not be visible. So we decided to give it some time to rest and keep it for the night.
In the morning, we fed it banana again and then I attempted to feed it some milk. I found some YouTube videos on how to feed tiny bats and discovered that you can easily do that with a cotton bud. So that’s what we did. Mashi wrapped it in tissue papers, dipped a cotton bud in milk and then put it on the baby bat’s mouth. It instantly started to suckle on it! Its tiny little ears were moving and it closed its eyes while suckling on the cotton bud. That was the first time I realized how adorable bats are, even though they look scary from a distance.
But I also felt really bad about keeping it captivated inside a basket. I couldn’t keep it out in the open because my cat, Foxy, would attack it and also because it tried to crawl to corners which might be out of our reach. But inside the basket it would cling to a side for hours and it just looked so sad. My mother was also concerned that it might spread diseases or fleas. The vets in Dhaka barely knew how to take care of the big mammals, let alone bats. So there was nothing else that we could do except release it. Taking care of baby bats require professional expertise and there is none in our country. Also, it seemed like the baby bat is not injured and wanted to get away. So, with a heavy heart, I let Mashi take it away and leave it in a nearby garden. Apparently the moment she put the baby bat on the ground it crawled away superfast and got out of sight. I don’t think the little bat can fly …
It feels terrible to leave a helpless animal this way. Then again it seemed extremely frightened and uncomfortable with us around too. As far as I read, bats cannot be domesticated. Even if you keep one as a pet, it will always be frightened of you. I am not sure if it’s true. Maybe I am just trying to feel less guilty about it. But I think it was the right thing to do. Freeing the baby bat gave it more chance to find other bats to live with, as bats usually do, and also learn to survive on its instincts. Because often I see that once you domesticate an animal and keep it indoors all the time, they become too dependent on humans and forget their animal instincts.