Rehabilitation of wildlife casualties requires a licence and a large investment of time and resources. It is mainly in the animal’s best interest to transfer it to an appropriately trained and equipped individual/organisation as soon as possible.

Before attempting to capture a wildlife casualty:

  • Observe, assess, discuss, then decide whether intervention is appropriate
  • All wild animals can potentially transmit disease and inflict serious injuries
  • Remember, your own safety is of paramount importance


FIRST try to call relevant contact number from contacts page for further advice


  • Follow capture instructions below
  • Capture ONLY if you have adequate equipment and container
  • Bring to a vet if possible, if not bring home temporarily
  • Follow husbandry advice for feeding and housing
  • Call relevant contact number from contacts page for further advice


  • If you can approach the bat, place an upturned cardboard box over it as protection
  • Note exact location and call relevant person from our website contact page
  • Stay with the casualty until someone comes to help

Useful Items – light leather gloves, handkerchief, cloth, kitchen roll, cardboard box, long handled fine mesh or cloth nets

Entanglement capture (e.g. in fishing equipment)

  • Cut netting so bat AND netting can be rescued
  • Lift into open container

Unconscious casualty capture (e.g. hit by car on road)

  • Gently lift with handkerchief into open waiting container

Capture/removal (if mobile)

  • Open up windows, close doors and turn off lights so that the bat can navigate its own way outside, or
  • Wait for the bat to land and then, wearing protective gloves, scoop it up and into a box
  • ONLY use net if you are an extremely experienced bat handler! NEVER ‘swipe’ with the net

Capture notes
All bats are protected by law
All bats can potentially bite – always wear gloves or use cloth to lift bat to prevent being nipped
Ireland has been rabies free since 1903 (Report on zoonoses in Ireland 2004) and, to date, no bat has been found in Ireland showing symptoms of the disease
Always gently detach bat’s claws from surface before lifting
If flapping excitedly during capture, cover with light cloth to calm/restrain

Cardboard box
Line box with cloth
Drape cloth over one side of the container so the bat can cling on vertically during transit
Ventilation holes in box
Avoid direct sunlight – danger of overheating

Handle extremely gently
Lie bat across your fingers and restrain body gently with your thumb
Take care not to strain the forearms and flight muscles
Once captured do not try to calm it by talking to it
Keep other domestic animals away/out of sight

See Suppliers page for food and equipment mentioned below

Do not mix species
Bat will climb out of container if not fully enclosed
Aquarium must have fine mesh lid for ventilation, box must have holes
Line bottom of container with cloth or kitchen towel
Line walls with cardboard to darken the interior
Drape cloth or kitchen towel over side of container for bat to cling on to
House in quiet, warm, dark area, away from domestic animals


  • Fish aquarium
  • Sturdy cardboard box
  • Plastic pet transportation box

A hot water bottle wrapped in a towel can be placed under part of the cardboard box
Or a hot water bottle filled with WARM water can be placed inside the container, at one end
The bat needs to be warmed so it feels warm to the touch
Beware overheating can also kill so give enough space that the bat can crawl away from the heat if necessary
If the bat is cold it will be unwilling to feed

When bat warmed and alert, offer:
Tap water or rehydration solution for bat to lick from artist’s paintbrush
Rehydration solution – “1 pinch of sugar and 1 pinch of salt in 1 cup of warm water”
If bat bright and alert, leave milk bottle top/jam jar lid with a few drops of each of these fluids in container

Cat/dog food, especially the jelly part, mashed into a fine paste
Offer to the bat to lick from the tip of an artist’s paintbrush or medicine dropper

Quantity depends on time of year and size/age of bat but roughly 2-8g of food per day
An orphaned, un-weaned neonate/juvenile may need to be fed every 2 hours
An adult bat can be fed once after dark
Leave tiny amount of food in bottle top in container but hand feeding will be necessary initially

See Supplies page for food and equipment mentioned below

Step by Step:

  • Weigh
  • Warm up
  • Stimulate to urinate/defecate
  • Provide fluids

As for adult bat, see above

As for adult bat, see above


Rehydration solution/ ‘milk’ suggestions:

  • Rehydration solution – “1 pinch of sugar and 1 pinch of salt in 1 cup of warm water”
  • Royal Canin Baby Dog

ALL feeds should be lukewarm
(24hrs of rehydration solution feeds is fine if milk replacement difficult to obtain)
Allow to rest between feeds, only handle for feeding

Preventative measures:

  • Use rehydration solution for the first few feeds while you and the pup get used to feeding
  • Hold the pup on its belly with its head slightly lowered whilst feeding
  • Always feed patiently, slowly and gently
  • Try to get the pup to lick/suck the fluids slowly rather than guzzling

Take to vet for antibiotics and other respiratory drugs if pup inhales fluids and starts coughing for any long period of time, breathing heavily or breathing with mouth open

Introducing ‘milk’
1st feed – rehydration solution
2nd feed – rehydration solution
3rd feed – rehydration solution
4th feed – ½ rehydration solution, ½ milk (as above)
5th feed – ½ rehydration solution, ½ milk
6th feed – milk

Feeding equipment

  • Artist’s paintbrush
  • ear dropper

In general offer as much as they will take, they will stop when they’re full
Never feed an animal so much fluid that its tummy becomes hard and distended

If pup has no fur, feed 8 times per day
A fully furred pup can be fed 4 times per day
If they are unwilling to wake up and feed, extend the gap between feeds by ½ hour

Keep feeding utensils in a deep bowl of sterilising solution e.g. Milton
Use clean feeding utensils for each feed
After use, dismantle feeding equipment and clean thoroughly in warm soapy water, rinse, then replace in the sterilising bowl

Rinse all utensils before each feed.

Rehabilitation of wildlife casualties requires a licence and a large investment of time and resources. It is mainly in the animal’s best interest to transfer it to an appropriately trained and equipped individual/organisation as soon as possible.

Before attempting to capture a wildlife casualty:

  • Observe, assess, discuss, then decide whether intervention is appropriate
  • All wild animals can potentially transmit disease and inflict serious injuries
  • Remember, your own safety is of paramount importance


  • Small box/aquarium is suitable for initial intensive care
  • Once stronger, move into medium sized accommodation e.g. Flexarium – nylon mesh cage for keeping insects/reptiles
  • Once ready for pre release exercise, ideally move to large outdoor bat flight cage e.g. 3 solid sides, concrete floor, fine mesh front and top, roughly 5x3x2m. Containing bat boxes, water and food dispensers

Disturb as little as possible
Locate in quiet area away from other animals
Flight cage could be used as soft release cage

Mealworms, waxworms, maggots (with empty guts)
Initially hand feed by removing the head of the mealworm and then squeezing the internal body contents into the bat’s mouth
After a few feeds, the bat will begin to feed on whole mealworms and then by itself
Brown and Grey long-eared bats like moths
Smaller bats like waxworms, larger bats enjoy crickets or locusts
Watch for obesity, compare with normal species specific bat weight
If feeding live mealworms beware mealworms can attack tiny bats!
Use tweezers to hold insect food

Adult bats must be adequately hydrated before being fed

Mealworm Diet Calci-Paste, Nutrobal, Mealworm Diet Plus
(Designed for feeding to mealworms to increase their calcium content)

Quantity depends on time of year and size of bat but 2-8g of food or 10-40 mealworms per day Leave food in bottle top or scattered on floor in container. Hand feeding will be necessary initially

Some bats e.g. lesser horseshoe bats, will not feed from the floor. A bowl must be hung from the side of the container and hand-feeding must continue until the bat is eating from this bowl

Extra info for long term husbandry:

Returning a pup to its roost
Warm pup up and rehydrate with water or rehydration solution
If you know the location of the roost, return at dusk and place the pup on a vertical surface that it can cling to e.g. ivy covered wall, at the entrance to the roost
If you don’t know the location of the roost, return at dusk to the place where you found the pup
If there are no appropriate safe surfaces to leave the pup, bring with you an artificial wall for the pup to hang onto e.g. a tall post with piece of carpet-covered board attached vertically to the top
Place the pup on the vertical surface so it can cling on. The mother may return and pick up the pup if it hears the pup’s squeaks
If the pup isn’t picked up at dusk when the bats are out and about, take it home again and continue hand-rearing
Repeat this procedure for 3 consecutive nights before halting

Weigh same time each day
Accurate weighing is very important during weaning
Weight loss or static weight is an early indicator of underlying problems
Important for bats housed in groups, to ensure all bats get the food they require

Usually born in early June but weather dependent and may be as late at mid-July
Birth weight approx 1-1.5g
One quarter to one third adult weight at birth
Suckle for 6 to 7 weeks
Eyes open within first week
Ears erect by end of second week
Half adult weight by third week
Solo flight after 7 weeks

A furry toy can be provided as a mother substitute for the pup to cling to
At 8 weeks of age, once self feeding, move to outdoor enclosure to practice capturing flying prey until ready for release
See Housing in the husbandry Adult section of longer term care info

Rehydration solution – Lectade or equivalent, initially
Canine milk replacement – Royal Canin Baby Dog
Teach pup to lap milk from a fine-tipped paintbrush or from a medicine dropper

Pups should be offered liquid milk replacement formula immediately after receiving SC injections of electrolytes on arrival

Multivitamins (Abidec)
Wings can become distorted through calcium deficiency

Varies depending on size, age and species
If pup has no fur, feed 8 times per day (roughly from 7.00am to 11.00pm, feed every two hours)
A fully furred pup can be fed 4 times per day
In general offer as much as they will take, they will stop when they’re full
Never feed an animal so much fluid that its tummy becomes hard and distended

Continue feeding from paintbrush until weaned onto whole mealworms
Start weaning at 6 weeks of age
Mash mealworms with milk formula, later offer just the mealworm body contents
By 7 weeks should be taking whole mealworms

Routine records should be maintained of weight, times of each feed, quantities of food consumed, urine/faeces production and general condition/demeanour

A paintbrush may be used to stimulate urination and defecation

Normal faeces – Black, cylindrical, about 6mm long – size and shape depend on species and can be ovoid, cylindrical, barrel-shaped etc., length can be from 3mm to 1cm and colour depends on prey so can be brown or black or a mixture
Abnormal/bad faeces – extremely wet/liquid

Potentially prevents release
Ideally rear more than one of a species together

Always seek advice from specialist organisations with knowledge of suitable release sites/habitat

Careful assessment and appropriate health checks should be carried out prior to release, as to the risks of released animals introducing new diseases into the wild population/environment

Release criteria/considerations
Need to be wild – wary/scared of humans, domestic animals and any other natural predators
Must be physically fit, mentally sound, stable body weight for over 7 days
Can’t be released if underweight, unable to recognise/eat normal diet etc
Must be of an appropriate weight for the age, sex, and time of year for the species
Do not release in winter unless it has sufficient body weight to cope with the cold
Ideally return to original location unless dangerous or unsuitable
Release away from roads, species specific predators, areas where they could cause damage
Consider natural history of the animal and the location of local wild groups of these animals
Release during a period mild weather. No strong winds, heavy rain, or severe frost
Ideally identify animal in some way e.g. microchip/tag, for post release monitoring/identification

Preferred habitat
Species dependant but along hedgerows and tree lines on farmland, open woodland, suburban gardens, marshes, riparian woodland, water courses and bodies, urban parkland. Avoid open landscapes like large arable fields and moorland 

HARD RELEASE (direct release)

Hard release technique
The animal is simply allowed to exit a transport container with no further care or feed provision

Hard release candidates
Hard release technique only suitable if animal rescued as an adult and only if in captivity for short period of time, and only if to be released where originally found

Release timing
Preferably release as soon as possible. Mild months most suitable
Bats mainly hibernate in winter (Nov/Dec) so shouldn’t be released in winter unless it has sufficient body weight for hibernation

Species specific considerations
Able to fly vigorously for at least 10 minutes
Ideally return to original location unless dangerous or unsuitable e.g. building work where colony roost or if found inside house
Natural history of the relevant bat species and the location of local colonies are important for successful release

After warming in gloved hands, place bat as high as possible on a tree trunk or other vertical surface Step back and watch. If bat doesn’t fly off, encourage it to do so by gently nudging it. If it fails to fly or crashes repeatedly, retain in captivity and repeat another night
Only release during the hours of darkness 

SOFT RELEASE (gentle or gradual release)
Pups (sometimes adults)

Soft release technique
Soft release aims to slowly reintroduce the animal to the wild while still in a comfort zone e.g. cage it was reared in, and allow the animal to leave the cage once confident and independent
It involves continuing to care for animals at the release site, and aims to compensate for difficulties of newly released animals finding food and shelter in a new environment

Soft release candidates
Essential release method for hand reared animals, or adults that have been in captivity for long period or that are to be released in new location
If more than one young animal in care, if practicable, try to form a release group
Release group – try to have mixed genders, appropriately matched age group

Release timing
August – September depending on age and physical fitness

Species specific considerations
Able to fly vigorously for at least 10 minutes
Need to be a minimum of 8 weeks of age

Temporary cage placed in release location
Cage fully enclosed and containing bat box, natural cover, food and water
Animal fed only natural foods it will come across in the wild
Cage opened at dusk or just before sunset, and left in-situ for animal to come and go until it feels confident enough not to return
Food provided, decreasing in quantity, until the animal no longer returns
Soft release may take a few weeks

ADULT BAT SPECIES WEIGHT GUIDE  (aid for determining release suitability)

Species Weight (g)
Common/soprano pipistrelle 4-7
Whiskered bat 4-8
Brandt’s bat 4-8
Lesser horseshoe bat 5-7
Brown long-eared bat 6-12
Daubenton’s bat 6-12
Natterer’s bat 6-12
Nathusius’ pipistrelle 6-15
Leisler’s bat 11-20

*Compulsory licence details at end of document*

Let us not waste time complaining about the excessive bureaucratic legislation covering wildlife today. The intent was to provide protection for wildlife and the data is valuable.

If we don’t want to be legislated upon, or don’t like current legislation, we must offer legislative solutions. Apply for your licences but also email  your ideas for a more practicable solution for ‘policing wildlife rehabilitation’ in Ireland, to


Irish Wildlife Act 1976 and Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 – protected species
Berne Convention, Appendix 2 – requires strict protection
EU Habitats Directive, Annex IV and Annex II (lesser horseshoe bat)
Irish Red Data book – least concern
Leisler’s bat – Irish Red Data book – near threatened
Wildlife (N.I.) Order of 1985 – protected species
The Conservation (Nature Habitats, etc.) Regulations (N.I) 1995

Bats and their breeding and resting places are protected but the Habitats Directive provides for derogations. Licences may be issued to allow disturbance “provided there is no satisfactory alternative and the derogation is not detrimental to the maintenance of the populations of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status”
Illegal to wilfully interfere with, kill or injure a bat, or destroy its breeding/resting place
Roosts are protected at all times regardless of whether bats are present or absent

Subject to the conditions set out in the licence provided for the possession/retention of a wild bird/animal

Report any suspicious activities or equipment to NPWS Conservation Ranger (see CONTACTS page)

* For licence application form for the possession/ retention of a wild animal – click HERE

Post to the address below OR email to

Wildlife Licence Unit
National Parks and Wildlife Service
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
90 King Street North
Dublin 7
D07 N7CV

Phone: (064) 662 7300

Bacterial enteritis (Escheriachia coli)

Clinical Signs –diarrhoea
Diagnosis –faecal culture
Treatment – supportive treatment, fluids and anti-diarrhoeal agents e.g. kaolin and pectin gel. Antibiotics based on sensitivity results and used with caution due to toxicity from disruption of normal microbial flora.
Comments – Care with antibiotic dose rates

Wing problem – bacteria

Clinical Signs – sticky, smelly coating on inside of folded wings
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – clean with warm saline
Comments – found in bats in captivity if not flying


Clinical Signs – damage to wing/bones, skin lesions, underlying severed blood vessels
Diagnosis – found entangled in fishing tackle or netting
Treatment – Analgesics and antibiotics. Fluid therapy. Hydrogel dressings, dermisol cleaning. Regular exercise
Comments – keep for at least 7 days to monitor for pressure necrosis. Netting on fruit bushes, fishing tackle hanging from bushes on riverside.

Wing tears

Clinical signs – lacerations, puncture wounds, superficial to severe
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – antibiotics and analgesics. Surgery; suture, tissue glue, OpSite Film. CONTACT bat group first!
Comments –very common problem, check flight ability before attempting treatment, some heal without intervention but can take months

Cat Attack

Clinical signs – lacerations, fractures, puncture wounds, fur loss, superficial to severe wounds
Diagnosis – clinical signs, history
Treatment – antibiotics (baytril and amoxicillin or tetracycline) and analgesics (metacam)
Comments – often die due to septicaemia within 48hrs if untreated, very common problem


Clinical signs – many open fractures, usually humerus/radius
Diagnosis – clinical signs when holding up to light source and extending the wing
Treatment – antibiotics and analgesics. Surgery – *CONTACT bat group first!
Splinting using adhesive tape/ strip of Vet-Lite/ cotton bud
Tissue glue stabilisation

Intramedullary pinning using 27/28 or 30G needles
External fixation – impractical
Amputation, “if necessary – long-term captives with one amputated wing can have good quality of life and serve as ambassadors to educate children during school visits, if two wings require amputation then euthanise the animal” (Conor Kelleher)
Comments – fractured ulna mainly insignificant. Fractured ‘fingers’ often have associated wing tears.

Oil contamination

Clinical signs – hypothermia, toxicity from ingesting oil coating the body/wings
Diagnosis – clinical signs, history
Treatment – washing-up liquid, sunflower-based margarine. Kaolin and pectin gel as adsorbent
Comments – clean with cotton bud. Contaminants oil, adhesive from fly-papers. Do not use industrial degreasing agents.

Ectoparasites flea, mite, tick, bat bug (Cimex pipistrelli), nycteribiid fly (Phthiridium biarticulatum)

Clinical Signs – visual identification
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – cotton bud saturated with 70% Isopropyl alcohol; dampen head area, wipe wings. Treat with medication when stable. Whiskas Exelpet flea powder, permethrin flea powder or ivermectin for cattle mixed with propylene glycol
Comments – dust flea powder into fur with paintbrush or remove mites with wet paintbrush


Clinical signs – hypothermia, toxicity from ingesting oil coating the body/wings
Diagnosis – clinical signs, history
Roundworms: lethargy, thin coat, inappetent, v+, ‘pot belly’, pale mm, ataxia
Coccidia: inappetent, v+, d+, dehydration, tremors, ataxia
Tapeworms: Fur loss, thin coat, excessive appetite, d+, lethargy
Flukes: weak, emaciated, inappetant, excessive thirst, hunched, dyspnoea, stiff fingers
Treatment – panacur for roundworms and tapeworms, sulfadimethoxine for coccidia, albendazole for flukes
Comments – euthanase if severe fluke infestation

Dehydration, emaciation

Clinical Signs – inappetence, dull/dry eyes, flaky skin, dry/discoloured wings, ataxia
Diagnosis – clinical signs, history – grounded due to injury, illness, trapped indoors, heat exhaustion, orphaned
Treatment – rehydrate (see above), increase humidity to 60-80%
Comments – Fluids may not be absorbed when organ failure is imminent. The bat may go into shock and die within moments of being injected.

Wing membrane necrosis

Clinical Signs – dry, cracked, flaking wing membrane
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – systemic antibiotics, massage membranes with E45 cream, topical nitric oxide cream
Comments – necrosis can migrate into bone, suggested causes: trauma, dry environment, bacteria, fungus

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

Clinical Signs – curvature of the long bones of the wing, swelling of the wrists and/or finger joints;
muscular weakness. A pup will hold its wings out to the side, partially open, and cry when handled. In severe cases, tremors, seizures, death.
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – calcium supplement, metacam for pain
Comments – nutritional deficiency i.e. starving orphans, inappropriate milk replacement formulas


Clinical Signs – bald patches
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – EfaCoat Oil, solitary confinement, no handling
Comments – found in bats in captivity or young pipistrelles. Possible causes: trauma, over handling, mutilation, mealworm quinones

Subcutaneous emphysema or punctured lung

Clinical Signs – inflated areas on body, respiratory distress
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – aspirate with insulin syringe, antibiotics – clavamox, oxygen, rehydrate
Comments – recurrence possible, repeat procedure, generally resolves. Could be fractured rib puncturing lung


Clinical Signs – tiny bat found out during the day, normally grounded
Diagnosis – clinical signs, history
Treatment – first try Returning pup to its roost, see above
Comments – found in bats in captivity if not flying


Agrochemicals, timber treatment


  • No quality of life when recovered
  • Blind
  • Decreased flight ability
  • Permanent injuries to thumbs and toes hindering roosting, grooming and food manipulation
  • Tooth loss / fractured jaw affecting feeding ability
  • Back injuries


  • Pentobarbital sodium, isoflurane or xylazine, depending on method


  • Isoflurane saturated ball of cotton wool in syringe case with bat, all inside airtight container, or
  • GA then IP or intracardiac injection, or
  • Mix 0.05ml acepromazine with 0.05ml butorphanol and 9.8ml Lactated Ringers Solution (LRS). Administer 0.08ml SC.

Put the bat in a cloth for 20mins before administering xylazine solution (0.1ml xylazine mixed with 0.5ml LRS) SC.

Drugs & Dosages
SC over back and flank
IP to the right of midline at the level of the umbilicus (with animal in dorsal recumbency)
IV BLOOD SAMPLING drop of blood from wing vein
Temperature (°C) flying 40 resting 25 torpor 10
hibernation 2
Pulse rate
(beats per minute)
flying 650 resting 300 torpor 50
hibernation 2
Respiratory rate
(breaths per minute)

Wear protective gloves
Handle as little as possible to reduce stress
Some species are extremely small and can be easily injured
Lay bat across the fingers with the thumb firmly, but gently holding bat down
Avoid opening both wings at the same time, can cause injury if they struggle
Do not scruff
Do not hold solely by its wings
Good light required for examination. Hand lens or ideally magnifying loupes

  • Weigh
  • Warmth
  • Fluids – warmed Lactated Ringers Solution subcutaneously
  • Drugs

If sick/injured
Consider antibiotics and analgesia

Quantity size dependant:
Pups up to 5g – 0.3 – 1ml
Adults – 1.5 to 3mls
Two doses, 12hrs apart should be sufficient

Warmth – essential due to small size, use hot water bottle, heat pads, hot gloves, bubble wrap
General anaesthesia – isoflurane via face mask (e.g. syringe case)

Oxygen – continue providing oxygen for some time after surgery finished

Surgical considerations
Wings – thin membrane, delicate and friable. Handle as little as possible, use swaged-on 7/0 absorbable suture material