Post-release survival of hand-reared pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus spp)
There is very little known about the post-release survival of hand-reared pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus spp). We radio-tracked 12 pipistrelle bats, hand-reared and released under three different protocols: i) limited pre-release flight training and over-wintering (n = 5); ii) prolonged pre-release flight training, but with limited space (n = 2) and iii) prolonged pre-release flight training in large flight cage (n = 5). Of the five bats reared under the first protocol, four were recovered, grounded, within 48 h and the signal from the fifth bat lost on day two, due either to tag failure or from the bat flying out of the study area. Both bats in the second group flew strongly on the night of release but on the second and third nights only one emerged and flew briefly. The signals from both bats remained stationary on subsequent nights. In contrast, bats from the third group were tracked for between five and ten nights, indicating that they were able to survive independently following release. These preliminary results suggest that post-release survival depends on extensive pre-release conditioning in a large flight cage, rather than the limited flight opportunities traditionally provided within domestic houses by bat carers. Other factors that may affect post-release survival are discussed and further work is encouraged to determine whether rehabilitated bats integrate with the local population.
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