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Bat Sanctuary

Chance meeting led to protecting bats

Sanctuary closing in on three decades


Amanda Lollar still remembers the day in 1988 when she happened upon an injured bat.

The Parker County woman was well aware of the negative stereotypes associated with the furry little creatures, but when she looked at her, alone, afraid and suffering, all she felt was compassion and pity.

Scooping her up to begin the process of nursing her back to health, Lollar decided it was time to do a little research of her own.

"At the time, people believed some horrible things about bats, and my heart went out to them," Lollar said. "I did some research and got educated, and eventually opened up Bat World Sanctuary."

Bat World Sanctuary opened in 1994, and Lollar, 67, serves as president.

The sanctuary is a worldwide rescue, whose Facebook page has more than 300,000 followers, along with a strong Instagram presence. It also works with the Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter and local residents when they have issues with bats.

"We rescue bats that have been confiscated from the cruel, exotic pet trade, as well as zoos and from research," Lollar said. "But we are also a rehabilitation facility, where we rescue bats from the wild - bats that have been injured or orphaned -- and then release them back into the wild. We have a permanent sanctuary as well, so that if an animal can't go back into the wild for some reason, we offer lifetime sanctuary."

An zoo-rescue Indian flying fox
An zoo-rescue Indian flying fox
An Egyptian fruit bat rescued from an exotic pet dealer
An Egyptian fruit bat rescued from an exotic pet dealer

Bats are useful

Lollar said that, aside from being extremely intelligent creatures, bats serve a number of important purposes.

"The bats in Texas alone will eat tons and tons of insects every summer," Lollar said. "They include flying termites, flying ants, moths, mosquitoes, beetles, and all different types of crawling pests. In fact, the most common type of bat in Texas is called the Mexican free tailed bat, and their primary diet is the corn borer moths. 

"If we lost these bats, we would end up paying nine dollars for an ear of corn at the market place. They do a tremendous amount of work for us in terms of keeping crop damage down."

Another important contribution is how much bats save on pesticides. 

“We'd spend an extra billion dollars poisoning our environment if it wasn't for these bats helping with insect control,” Lollar said.


The Bat Sanctuary president said that there are also a number of misconceptions about bats that contribute to their poor reputation.

"A lot of people think they are blind," Lollar said. "They are not. They can see just about as well as we

can. They can actually see better in some ways because they have eyes equipped for night vision, kind of like a cat. 

They are not related to mice or rats. 

"They are of their own order, which is Chiroptera, which means hand-wing, because they fly with their hands. They have elongated fingers, essentially, just like humans," she said. 

They are not all vampires. 

"Seventy percent of the world's bats eat insects. There are only three species out of 1,400 that do drink the blood of other animals and they are called vampire bats. They are very tiny, about the size of a package of M&M's and they are afraid of people, Lollar said. 

They don't attack people at all. 

"So that is another Hollywood, movie misconception that instills fear in people. They don't all carry rabies, either," she said. "Less than one half of one percent of all bats will contract rabies. As a matter of fact, a lot of bats have developed an immunity to rabies. So if you find them on the ground, it is far more likely that they have a broken wing, or have been orphaned or injured from a storm or cold front than it is to have rabies.”

Pallid bat, mainly in west TX (they eat centipedes and scorpions)
Pallid bat, mainly in west TX (they eat centipedes and scorpions)
Red bat, 2nd most common species in TX.
Red bat, 2nd most common species in TX.

Still be careful

Now that does not mean that people who find a stray bat should not exercise prudence.

“We do caution people to never ever pick up a bat with your bare hand, because it will be afraid and it might bite and then of course you will have to be tested for rabies, regardless,” Lollar said. “So we always ask people, if they find a bat to please contact us. 

"If a bat is found somewhere where you can see it, it means that something is probably wrong. So the best thing to do is use a cloth or a glove, not your bare hand and scoop the bat into a box. 

“If you're out in the park or something, you can grab a paper cup and scoop him into that without using your bare hands always, and then just give us a call, and we can assess what the bat needs. We have rescuers across the U.S. We will be able to get some help for that animal pretty quickly. "

Put to the test

In March, the Bat Sanctuary was really put to the test, receiving it's largest rescue in its history, taking in more than 325 short tailed fruit bats that were in pretty bad shape.

Sanctuary workers rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

"These bats are small, about the size of hummingbirds, and were living in horrific conditions," Lollar said. "So a lot of them were in critical condition. We worked around the clock, triaging these guys and getting them stable. That has been one of our most grueling rescues to date."

Lollar said that most people do not realize just how important fruit bats are to the ecosystem.

"Fruit bats help us with over 400 commercial products, and 80 different medicines are given to us by fruit bats through pollination and seed dispersal," Lollar said. "Even bananas - we can raise bananas on our own, but they have to be mixed with wild stock, otherwise they won't be sweet. Wild stock is pollinated by fruit bats. If you go to the grocery store and look at 90 percent of your fruits and vegetables, either an insect bat has protected that crop or a fruit bat has enabled it to be to be grown through seed dispersal and pollination. 

“On top of that, 98 percent of all rainforest tree growth comes from seeds that have been spread by fruit bats. So they are an enormous help to us in as far as our foods, stencil for rope, ingredients in cosmetics, toothpaste, ink, paper, all kinds of things come from fruit bats - from the plants they help to propagate."

Mexican free-tail bat.
Mexican free-tail bat.
Mexican free-tails, our most common species.
Mexican free-tails, our most common species.

Looking closer

The organization's Facebook page has stories of different bats, and people can see the inside of the sanctuary. 

"We have tours of what we call our geriatric ward for our bats that don't fly anymore," Lollar said. "They just recline in little hammocks. We'll do live streams at night, sometimes, that are un-monitored. People can watch the bats fly around. We also have  five livestream bat cams that run 24-7 on our website where people can watch them eat meal worms and play ." 

There is a also a chat feature that is family friendly.

"We have a lot of people watching from different countries that comment periodically," Lollar said. "So it's kind of cool to see someone from Germany comment and see what they are thinking. They're in a different time zone so they are watching at a different time of day than we do."

Lollar received the Carol Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence in 2016 as she was “singled out for her leadership in supporting the welfare of bats as a caregiver, educator, and advocate,” according to www.sanctuaryfederation.org.

It all started with a chance encounter 35 years ago the Parker County woman had on her way to the bank.

"I found a little bat on a sidewalk and just fell in love with her, especially when I found out that just about everything I knew about bats wasn't true," Lollar said. "Then, just taking her home and trying to heal her broken wing and set her free. She couldn't go free, and I just fell in love with her in the process of caring for her. I decided to dedicate my life to helping bats."

The sanctuary itself is 7,200 square feet and most of that is for flight area for bats that cannot be released to the wild.

It has six full-time and part-time employees, and about 50 volunteers.

The Bat Sanctuary is not open to the public, and with good reason.

"A lot of the bats we have here came from horrible conditions," Lollar said. "Tours are really stressful,

so we just offer them a life of peace and happiness."

To reach Bat World Sanctuary, call (940) 325-3404.

To make a donation, visit www.batworld.org. 


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