We rescue about 6 tube-nosed bats a year. All have been found caught on barbed wire fences or attacked by a cat. Like the blossom bats many die from exposure fairly quickly. The extent of their injuries means that only about 25% can be released. Their short broad wings ensure their flight is highly manoeuvrable and they can easily hover. It is therefore extremely important that they have a full recovery from barbed wire injuries.
When these bats initially come into care they seem to prefer a hard not-so-sweet fruit such as red apple, but over time they often include fruits such as rockmelon, guava, lichee, custard apple, grapes or banana. We present it on a small s-hook as they hold fruit against their chests with their thumb claws, wrapping themselves around the fruit. They can be difficult eaters, displaying different food preferences that can change very quickly. Some will eat only banana, for example, then suddenly stop and it can take some time until you manage to find exactly what it is s/he wants. Flying-foxes are much easier to feed. The tube-noseds are not nectar feeders like the pollinating bats so their tongues are not designed for licking. They bite rather than lick juice off the end of a syringe or teat.
We have had trouble maintaining their body weight in captivity, and found that Ensure powder dusted on fruit and mixed in their juice makes a huge difference. We have had 2 pregnant females come into care and give birth inside our cage. Flexariums provide good soft housing while in acute care. Often they will not eat well in the open area of our microbat cage and so need to feed in the flexarium as well.
Young tube-nosed bat born in our cage to a mother with barbed wire injuries. They were released together once the pup could fly.
Tube-nosed mum cleaning her baby.
Tube-nosed taking juice from a syringe.
Mother with pup. We’ve now had 2 females give birth in our cage.
Most tube-nosed bats we’ve had in care enjoy lichees. The lichee season is very short so we freeze to have them throughout the year.
All megabats are like juice extractors, they extract the juice and spit out the rest. They firstly chew the fruit, then use their tongue to squeeze the fruit against the palate until there is quite a dry spat. This photo shows spats from a tube-nosed bat that had been eating guava, pear and blue quondong.
These bats quickly learn to drink from a small bottle (25mls) and teat. The teat needs to be thick-walled as they bite quite hard to get the juice out. We cut a small ‘x’ in the tip of the teat rather than make a hole. This ensures the juice doesn’t leak. We add Ensure pudding to the juice to make it more nutritious.