A lethargic and cold little bat arrived at Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue, near Didcot, last week.

The charity, who rescues, cares, and rehabilitates sick, injured, and orphaned British wildlife, published a picture of the small animal on their Facebook page saying it was their first bat patient this year.

They will keep him for close monitoring and release him back to the wild when the weather gets a little warmer.

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Luke Waclawek, head of the charity, explained that bats should not be awake at this time of the year, the reason they need their care is not because they are injured, but because they are starving.

He said: “Bats should not be awake at this time of the year; they should be hibernating. The problem is that climate change has had an effect on this animal, just like in many other species. They have woken up earlier. There is no food around for them, they are physically starving.

“As much as it is lovely that we are rescuing them, rehabilitating them and realising them. It is not the long-term answer.”

The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust’s (BBOWT) latest 10-year climate change action plan, published in 2021, warned that climate change is already affecting numerous species in the three counties, including dormice, beech trees and many song birds.

Debbie Lewis, BBOWT’s head of ecology, said: “Sadly, climate change is already harming wildlife across the UK, including here in Oxfordshire. Warmer winters are affecting animals’ hibernation patterns, causing some to wake up at a time when their spring food is not yet available, which can lead to starvation.

“We believe this is one of a number of factors causing the decline in the British dormouse population, which approximately halved over the last century. The lifecycles of breeding birds and insects such as caterpillars (a critical food source for young birds in spring) are also being impacted by the changing seasons and availability of food, which is very worrying

BBOWT is working hard to mitigate the effects of climate change on our nature reserves and in the wider landscape. And while we can all do our bit to help tackle climate change, we need to see more urgent and ambitious action on a national and global level to drastically reduce carbon emissions, if we’re going to solve this climate and nature crisis.”

If anyone in Oxfordshire finds an animal that they think is in distress, BBOWT recommends calling the RSPCA injured animal phone line (0300 1234 999) or Tiggywinkles wildlife hospital in Haddenham (01844 292292).


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