NOBLE, Okla. - It may look like a scary sight, but wildlife experts are asking Oklahomans to put their fear aside if they see a certain animal in need.
Officials at Wildcare Oklahoma say they have received several reports of bats laying in the streets of Oklahoma City and Norman. As a result, they've taken in several bats before releasing them back into the wild.
Dr. Faye Lorenzsonn is serving up a mealworm feast, a real treat compared to bats' typical meal of mosquitoes.
"They're really important for our insect control," Dr. Lorenzsonn said.
That love for mosquitoes is part of the reason they're ending up on city streets during migration. Officials say city lights are a hot spot for insects.
"They follow the lights and grab dinner," said Wildcare Oklahoma Director Rondi Large.
Large says once they are full, they are ready to sleep.
"It's kind of like on the highway, trying to find a motel," Large said.
Sometimes, they find lodging in the wrong place and the strong Oklahoma wind blows them to the ground, leaving them unable to fly away.
Bats are unable to become airborne unless they have a a place to jump from. That's why they're often seen climbing walls.
So what do you do if you find a bat in your path?
First, don't be scared.
“There’s a lot of negative stereotypes surrounding bats and vampires and there’s so much myth behind it. And in reality, I think they’re just furry little animals eating mosquitoes and trying to live their life," Lorenzsonn said.
Also, don't believe the hype.
"It's an old husband's tale that they get tangled up in women's hair," said Large. "They're trying to avoid us. They're not going to do that."
However, bats can carry rabies, so it's very important to be safe.
Here's Large's advice:
- Wear leather gloves, not cotton gloves
- Use a towel to pick up and wrap up the bat
- Be prepared for the bat to flap its wings and chatter
- Put the bat in a box
- Don't use a box with holes large enough for the bat to escape
- Never touch a bat with your bare hands or let it crawl on you.
If you encounter a bat, you can call Wildcare Oklahoma at (405) 872-9338.
You can also visit their Facebook page.
This will happen again in the fall when the bats migrate, so be prepared.
Once the bats are nursed back to health, they will be released back into the wild.