Wild Valentines at Wild Things!
Sassy and her two boys (to the right) and her adopted daughter on her back. They always hang together.
Does everyone remember Sasparilla the Big Brown Bat who was found caught in a shutter? She had a horribly injured wing that took a long time to heal. With patience and a lot of care it did heal but she still had to wait out the winter months at Wild Things as a snowy upstate New York winter is no place to release a bat!
Sassy's injured wing is soaked in warm water with antiseptic
"Sassy" became a kind of "greeter" at Wild Things for all new arrival bats. Once incoming bat patients were quarantined for a period of time they were put together. Sassy would waste no time finding the new bat and hanging next to them and if any of the new arrivals still hadn't learned how to eat mealworms out of a dish, they soon caught on after watching Sassy climb into her dish of mealworms and devour her dinner.
Sassy helps Northern Long Eared Bat adjust to life at Wild Things. To the right a newer bat grasps Sassy's foot in the mealworm dish.
Last winter, just about this time, Sassy started spending a lot of time with a male bat. There were several individuals housed together, but these two were always found together. I know a lot of folks who say that one shouldn't and one cannot anthropomorphize about animal behavior...but all I can say is that Sassy and this male seemed to always spend time "hanging out" together, more than with other bats. They seemed to spend all of their time together.
Sassy hangs closely with her male companion during the cold winter months.
A few months later, during a check up, Sassy appeared to have a big lump in her stomach....hmmmm....but she was behaving normally and eating well....could it be that she was pregnant??
Sure enough, shortly after, Sassy gave birth to twin boys! She was such a good mother, carrying one baby under each wing where they stayed clamped on her nursing nonstop for the first few days of life. Sas looked like an American football player with padded shoulders!
Sassy's twin boys, about a week old.
Sassy allows a almost full grown baby nuzzle under her wing.
Slowly she started leaving the babies hanging on their own while she went and foraged for mealworms. About this time, an orphan baby girl Big Brown Bat arrived at Wild Things and Sassy wasted no time adopting her and showing her how to eat mealworms out of a dish!
Sassy teaches all of us that we can all, human or animal, reach out to one another and make everyone's lives a little bit better by sharing companionship!
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Did you know that scientists have shown that female bats in particular form enduring "friendship networks," long-term relationships that last for many years amidst constantly changing social environments? Individuals prefer certain companions over the years and chose their "friends" independent of their companions' size, age, reproductive status or relatedness.
Older female bats (up to twenty years of age) appear to play a special role in the cohesion of friendship groups and of the large colony group. These females ensure the exchange between the groups and they always took their daughters and granddaughters with them when they joined another formation.
Within colonies, member bats probably exchange information about suitable roosts, possibly making flexible group decisions where to communally roost next. They will also groom each other and keep warm with communal roosting, hanging close to one another. Without forming these closely tied groups individuals would not do well, and possibly might not even survive. Click here for more information
Judging from how Sassy's teeth are worn down, she is probably an older female. Though these studies were not conducted on Big Brown Bats, perhaps Sas has a whole network of bat buddies out there who she helps keep together. Watching her behavior at Wild Things, this wouldn't surprise me at all!