Pantanal Stories and Tips

Bats Research

Bat in Hand Photo,

As part of the Earthwatch expedition I participated in bats research in the Pantanal. Of course this was a late night activity. We would leave the Pousada at 5pm and drive to the location where we would set out the mist nets hoping to capture bats. The mist nets are very fine with 4 horizontal sections with pockets at the bottom of each section. The bats would fly into the nets and drop down into the pockets. Then the researchers would have the challenge of removing the bat from the nets. We would check the nets every half hour, and keep the nets up until midnight. We would capture 8 to 16 bats a night, though one evening they caught 37.

Once captured, each bat was placed in a cloth bag and left there for 30 minutes in the hope it would defecate in the bag. This would give the researchers clues to its diet. Then the bat was removed and ‘processed.’ It was identified, weighed, measured, parasites taken off the bats, and its age determined by placing the wing over a flashlight and looking at its bones. Then it was tagged with a small necklace with beaded numbers for identification. Finally it was released, no worse for wear. During my nights we captured insectivorous, herbivorous, and carnivorous bats. Yes, we even had a few vampire bats. It was an amazing experience to see these animals up close and learn about them first-hand.

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