Amanda Lollar’s life was forever changed after she rescued an injured bat she found on a sidewalk in 1988. Six years later, Lollar founded the non-profit organization Bat World Sanctuary in Weatherford.
“At that time I believed, like most people, that bats were vermin and good for nothing, but I’m an animal lover and my heart went out to her and I didn’t want her to just lay there and suffer in the hot sun so I took her home,” Lollar said. “I became curious so I went to the library and checked out a book on bats and found out everything I thought I knew about them wasn’t true, and because of misconceptions, we’ve almost succeeded in killing off one of the best species we have, as far as insect control.”
Lollar said bats are one of nature’s most misunderstood mammals.
“A lot of people think they all carry rabies and of course, that’s not true at all. Less than one-half percent of bats in the wild will contract rabies and those that do normally just go off and die quietly. Statistically you’re more likely to die from a vending machine falling on top of you than you are from being bitten by a rabid bat,” she said. “A lot of people also think bats try to get caught in your hair and that’s not true, I don’t even know where that came from. Bats can avoid a fishing line in total darkness, so there’s no way they’re going to get in your hair. They’re much too good at flying.
“They are not blind. Bats can actually see even better than we can because their eyes are equipped for night vision like cats and fruit bats can see color just like we do. They have the full color spectrum.”
Lollar said bats are more closely related to primates than any other animal, not rats, and they are extremely clean.
“They spend about a third of their day grooming their bodies like cats do,” she said. “They’re also virtually disease free. They have such a high metabolism and body temperature that they burn off viruses, so they get sick much less than a lot of other wild animals.”
Lollar added that only three species of bats, out of about 1,200 species, consume the blood of other animals.
“They get their blood meals from cows and chickens and sleeping wild animals and they’re kind of the parasite of the bats in the world, but they’re scared to death of people,” Lollar said. “Vampire bats don’t kill their victim, they just borrow a little bit.”
Lollar and her staff of three now rescue bats locally, nationally and internationally.
“Right now we have about 370 bats and we provide a permanent sanctuary for bats who can’t go back into the wild for certain reasons,” Lollar said. “Bats can live for 25 to 30 years, so some of these were rescued a long time ago. We treat and release probably 500 to 1,000 bats every year.”
Bat World houses bats from Asia, Africa, Egypt and South America as well as others from all over the U.S. The most common bat in Texas is the Mexican free-tailed bat, which Lollar says they rescue most often.
“We ask that people don’t handle bats with bare hands and use a cloth or glove and put the bat in a box,” Lollar said. “People can call us for rescues and we’ll get out there as quick as we can.”
For the bats they are unable to release, Lollar said they have a large facility for them and try to keep it looking as close to nature as possible.
“We have live bat cams on our website, so people can tune in and look at the bats any time they want,” Lollar said. “If someone gets insomnia, they can watch the bats at night play with their toys, groom, fly and play with each other. Bats are very animated and intelligent. They have an intelligence level equivalent to dolphins, so they’re extremely comical.”
Lollar does the job with no compensation and enjoys everything about it.
“What I love the most is just being able to rescue these guys when they’re so close to death and basically bringing them back to life and setting them free,” she said. “And being able to open people’s eyes to the benefits of bats and how different our world would be without them — basically almost unlivable if it weren’t for bats — is really important to me.”
The Bat World team participates in large area events as well as conferences and even holds workshops for animal control officers, veterinarians, zoologists and biologists from all over the world.
Moriah Adams has worked at Bat World Sanctuary for three years, but has worked with animals for much longer.
“I worked at the Dallas Zoo for over 10 years, I worked at a very large kennel for over seven years where I trained dogs and then I moved out to Mineral Wells with my fiance and didn’t know what I was going to do out here,” Adams said. “I discovered Bat World, so I started volunteering and did that for about three or four months and then I was lucky enough to be hired on. It’s been quite a pleasure and I’ve learned so much.”
Adams said she had never really worked with bats before, but had wanted to and said she fell into the right position.
“I am an animal caregiver and a lot of our day is preparing food basically and a lot of cleaning, animal observation and we give medications as well,” Adams said.
Adams also helps with the rescues and said she enjoys being a part of the organization.
“I love animals period, but it’s just very fulfilling and just being around the bats is really special,” Adams said. “They’re not creepy or scary, they’re not going to go for your throat. They eat 6,000 to 8,000 insects a night, so they’re really helping us.”
For more information about Bat World Sanctuary, or to check out the bat live feeds, visit batworld.org. For rescue inquiries, call 940-325-3404.