A bat which was discovered hiding in the boot of a car at a showroom has successfully been released back to the wild.
Bernie – as he was named by his carers – was discovered by salespeople in the back of a Vauxhall Grandland X which had been transported to a Hartlepool dealership.
It was first believed that the bat had travelled over from France – where the Grandland X is manufactured – but it later appeared that he could have got into the car at Vauxhall’s compound in Kent. He could also have climbed aboard during a period when the transporter stopped mid-way through its journey to Hartlepool.
Checked over by a local vet, Bernie was then taken into care with a Bat Conservation Trust volunteer – Gwynevere Kipling – who looked after him for two months before being able to return him to the wild.
Kipling said: “It was initially presumed that he came from France in the boot of the car. However, after speaking to staff we believe it’s more likely that he snuck in somewhere between the compound in Kent and arriving at the showroom in Hartlepool.
“Bernie wasn’t in bad shape considering he’d been in a car boot for some time. He had no injuries but seemed reluctant to fly. We believe this is because he’d been in a confined space.
“We gave him warmth, food, water and plenty of space as well as regular exercise and eventually he built up his strength and gained in confidence flying again. Once he was cleared for release we took him to a spot nearby where there is a local community of bats and plenty of resources available for them to give him the best chance.”
There are currently 18 different types of bat in the UK. Pipistrelle bats, which Bernie belonged to, are often the most encountered variety, feeding on small flies, aquatic midges and mosquitoes.
Adam Grogan, head of the RSPCA’s wildlife team, said: “It’s wonderful to see Bernie fit, healthy and back in the wild where he belongs.
“We’d like to thank Gwyn and her team at Durham Bat Group for their commitment to helping these wonderful creatures. The RSPCA rescues a large number of bats every year and we take many into our specialist wildlife centres to rehabilitate them. But we also rely on a network of dedicated bat carers to take care of many of them before they’re ready to be released.”