Almost 100 four-week-old bat pups, which temporarily closed a bank in Cork, have been reunited with their mothers.
The AIB branch in Blarney was closed to the public on Tuesday after staff noticed the tiny baby bats and called in the Bat Rehabilitation Ireland Centre to deal with the infestation. Customers were diverted to other branches.
Susan Kerwin, from Ireland’s first dedicated hospital for bats, rescued 93 tiny bats up to Thursday, but expected more to be found in the roof space of the old building.
“Two pups came down through the roof into the bank on Tuesday but staff couldn’t figure out where they were coming from so they called me in,” she said.
“I thought there would be more as I noticed bat droppings on the exterior window sills, so I wasn’t surprised to be called back to collect 40 on Wednesday and then a further 50 on Thursday.
“It’s not unusual for a roost of up to 400 of these soprano pipistrelles to be found in the attic of an old building, though there may have been some opening in the ceilings for the bats to have fallen through.
“These are one of Ireland’s smallest and most common bat species.
“Sometimes when the weather is warm, the bats cross from one part of the roof to another cooler area and they may have fallen as they were moving.
“The staff at the AIB were so concerned about the bats as they are only tiny things. They are about half the size of your thumb,” said Kerwin.
“I already had 34 adult bats in my care in the hospital so I was spending all day feeding the extra 93 babies which I had placed in the incubator.
“I had worried that the mothers may have abandoned their pups so I was delighted when I got a call from one of Ireland’s foremost bat experts, Conor Kelleher, who went into the bank on Friday with rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
“They located the roost in the roof of the building.
“So I put the incubator into the car and drove the hour trip back to Blarney to get the babies back to their mothers in the now secure roost.
“But before that happened we had to hand-feed almost 100 pups in the bank to ensure they were hydrated before we let them go home,” added Ms Kerwin.
“The staff at the bank were incredible and went above and beyond to do all they could to help us rehome the bats.
“Bats are not harmful and at this time of the year it’s not uncommon to find a pup in your washing line or in your home.
“It is the breeding season for bats and there are going to be a few stray pups crawling in open windows at night from their roost in the eaves or attic of the house,” she said.
“These pups can’t fly yet but, like all young, they are naturally curious so might crawl from the roost and in through a window.”
AIB said it is working to reopen the Blarney branch as soon as possible and apologised to customers.