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Bat rescue launched after surprise office ‘Memo’

A Norfolk power worker launched a bat rescue after finding a surprise office ‘Memo’.

From Press releases - 25 January 2021 12:00 AM

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UK Power Networks’ substation fitter, Jason Wymer, found a female common pipistrelle on the mess room noticeboard at Salle Grid on Friday, prompting staff to name her ‘Memo’.

Jason contacted the company’s environment adviser, Heather Patrick, who guided Jason through advice on the Bat Conservation Trust’s website on how to capture the bat. Jason said: “After I reported it they acted so quickly. I boxed her up, taking care to follow what they told me to do. She is a lovely bat.

“She squeaked as I gently used gloves and a towel to put her in a box with a few drops of water in a milk bottle cap. Our environment team contacted the bat helpline and we were put in contact with a bat carer, who collected her for monitoring.”

Local Bat Conservation Trust volunteer, Jane Harris, suspects Memo may have slipped into the office while feeding on the edge of dark. Jane said: “I think she tried to feed early and somehow got in the door before closing time, possibly attracted by insects around the lights. Full marks to Jason for spotting and carefully containing her. 

“Memo was a good weight but I persuaded her to eat some mealworm on the first couple of nights. This is the hibernation season so bats are mainly torpid and not bothering too much about eating, unless temperatures go up and they wake up. I’m letting her do her own thing now but keeping an eye on her weight.

“She won’t be released until March when we are through the worst of the winter weather. Then I will choose a time when temperatures in the early evening are above 8 degrees C and release her at sunset. I will need to make sure she is warm (on a heat pad) and ready to fly. Bats need to warm up their muscles before they can fly. They do this by shivering but a heat pad will help too.”

Weighing little more than a sugar cube, at just 4.3g, Memo is a healthy weight. She will be monitored before she is released back to the wild at the same location.

UK Power Networks’ Green Action Plan focuses on increasing biodiversity at its sites, including installing bat boxes at electricity substations where ecologists recommend them. The environment team will now consider whether to install bat boxes at Salle.

Heather Patrick, UK Power Networks’ environment adviser, said: “Many people don’t understand bats or are scared of them, particularly at the moment, so Jason’s story is a great way to dispel the myths and inform people about ways to help bats.

“Our substations are sometimes unlikely wildlife havens for plants and animals because the public are strictly prohibited from entering them on safety grounds. This allows wildlife habitats to thrive relatively untouched and we want to help protect animal and plant life at our sites.” 

If you find a bat in your home, check Bat Conservation Trust for advice https://www.bats.org.uk/advice/help-ive-found-a-bat/how-to-contain-a-bat and ring the National Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228, (open 9:30am - 4:30pm during winter months). They will provide advice over the phone and try and put you in contact with a locally trained volunteer bat carer where one is available. The National Bat Helpline is currently trying to secure the funds to run an extended service during the summer months, when bats are at their most active. See: https://chuffed.org/project/out-of-hours-emergency-service-for-bats