SOMERSET NEWS: One of the country’s rarest mammals discovered in Merriott

SOUTH SOMERSET NEWS: One of the country’s rarest mammals discovered in Merriott

A DEDICATED worker at the RSPCA in Somerset is providing round-the-clock care to a bat thought to be one of the rarest mammals in England.

Merri, believed to be a grey long-eared bat, was rescued by the RSPCA on Monday (August 14, 2017) after being found grounded in Merriott which sits between Yeovil and Crewkerne.

She was taken in by the charity’s West Hatch Wildlife Centre, near Taunton, where staff member and bat expert India Long has taken the tiny 5g mammal under her wing.

She said: “When she came in she was really close to death, it’s amazing that she’s still alive.SOUTH SOMERSET NEWS: One of the country’s rarest mammals discovered in Merriott

“She’s about the size of a ping pong ball and weighs only 5g which is about 2g less than she should. There are signs she would still have been dependent on her mother and we don’t believe she’d have survived if left.”

The bat also had a nasty injury to her foot meaning she’s struggling to use it.

India - a bat carer and wildlife assistant at West Hatch - has been caring for the tiny creature round the clock, at first giving fluids every two hours and now feeding her three times a day to slowly build up her strength.

She was very excited to have a grey long-eared bat in her care.

“It’s so difficult to tell grey long-eared bats apart from brown long-eared bats, which are much more common, but I’ve spoken to a number of different bat experts all of whom believe she looks like a grey bat,” India explained.

“We’ve sent a fecal sample off for DNA testing so we can be sure and can then ensure further rehabilitation is appropriate for her

“There’s so little known about grey long-eared bats and there’s thought to be only around 1,000 of them in this country.

“They’re one of the rarest bats in England and among the rarest mammals.”

India will continue to care for the grey long-eared bat before working with the Somerset Bat Group to facilitate her eventual release.

“She’s doing a little better now but isn’t out of the woods yet,” India said. “I really hope we are able to get her back to full health so we can release her back into the wild, where she belongs.”

So far this year, the RSPCA has taken in 163 bats who had been found grounded, injured, tangled in netting or having been attacked by another animal.

Merri is the only grey long-eared bat taken in by the RSPCA in 2017, with most rescues involving common pipistrelle bats (109) and 19 rescues of Merri’s lookalike - the brown long-eared bat.