A BAT rescued nearly four years ago has been spotted fit and healthy at the Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre where it was nursed back to health.
The female soprano pipistrelle bat was released at the end of August 2007 and has now survived for more than 1,350 days.
It was observed feeding from a bat box at Stapeley near Nantwich at the beginning of April.
A ring on her forearm identified her as the same animal found as a juvenile (about two months old) by a local bat group at Broxton Old Hall in early July 2007.
The Cheshire Bat Group was called by the owners of the private house after 16 young bats were found in the boiler room.
Female bats commonly roost in groups and share care of their offspring, and it is believed that this ‘maternity roost group’ had been abandoned by the mothers.
Sadly, 11 had already died and it took two months for this bat to be nursed back to health before she was released into the wild.
It is difficult to tag and track bats so little is known about how well they survive in the wild after rehab.
The fact that this bat has survived three winters is an exciting discovery for wildlife scientists.
RSPCA head of wildlife, Andrew Kelly, said: “We think she visited just after hibernation, when food is scarce in the wild and so she took advantage of the mealworms we put out.
“This is an important breakthrough in terms of what we know about wildlife rehabilitation.
“It means that this bat has survived three winters, including the very harsh one just gone, and despite being hand-reared and not having adult bats to teach her how to feed, fly and hibernate, she developed these survival skills for herself.”