Big Brown Bat at Mount Auburn
Urban Bat Diversity and Activity Study, Mount Auburn Cemetery, June 5, 2019. Lesley University researcher Chris Richardson retrieves and bands a Big Brown Bat caught in a mist net at Auburn Lake. He then performs a physical examination of the bat, including checking its face for signs of White Nose Syndrome (look closely at its mouth and you’ll see a fragment of a beetle that the bat had captured just before being caught itself in the net), measuring its wing length and checking its wings for signs of previous infection by the fungus that causes White Nose Syndrome.
The tiny holes visible in the bat’s wing are a sign that it had the disease but survived. Big Brown Bats have a higher recovery rate from White Nose Syndrome than other species of bats, so Chris also collects a blood sample from this bat to add to efforts to figure out how Big Browns are able to fight off the infection. He also swabs the bat’s face to collect any evidence it might still carry of the fungus. The band placed on the bat’s wing has a number that will be added to a Mass Fish & Wildlife database, so that if this bat is caught again in the future, researchers will know some of its history. The band rests securely on the wing’s bony edge like a cuff bracelet and does not pierce the wing itself.
Although gloves are worn for safety by the person handling the bat, as you can see, the research assistants are thrilled to find out how soft and silky a bat’s fur and wings are. The bat keeps up a steady and vocal commentary of its opinion about what is happening, but is unharmed by the experience and has contributed to efforts to better understand White Nose Syndrome and how it might be contained or stopped.