By Karl Etters
By now the story of several bats that threatened to interrupt Tuesday night’s Florida State University basketball game at the Civic Center against Notre Dame has made the rounds.
However, Wednesday a man rushed three of the winged mammals, two males and one female, to the Northwood Animal Hospital with symptoms of cold shock after they were found on the ground near the Civic Center.
The hospital serves as an after-hour intake center for the St. Francis Wildlife Association where the bats are now being treated, although it’s impossible to know if they were the same bats.
Of the three Brazilian free tailed bats, one died over night.
Director of St. Francis Stephanie Neumann said it’s uncommon for the center to get bats except “when temperatures drop so fast like they are now,” she said. “Sometimes when it gets cold they have a harder time handling it.”
Neumann said it’s not uncommon for bats to suffer stress, almost a near paralysis, when the mercury dips, but if they cannot get to high perch to take off, will be unable to get off the ground.
“Once they’re on the ground they can’t take off from the ground, they have to drop from above to take off,” Neumann said.
Five species of bats are common to our area. Seminole bats, red bats, hoary Bats, evening bats and Brazilian free tails make up the majority of the populations.
Most are solitary animals, but free tails are colony bats often found in groups in attics and under eaves.
Last year, St. Francis took in 36 bats, 13 of them Brazilian free tails, and just last week a Brazilian free tail found near the Challenger Learning Center downtown was brought in and released.
Free tails, which are the most common in our area, were once tested as bombers WWII, Neumann said, with the U.S. Air Force affixing small bombs to them.
That plan never took off, but the bats at St. Francis are getting ready to, Neumann said.
“They’re both doing good; they're eating well for us,” she said. “Once temperatures warm up, we’ll be able to let them go.”