Uninvited dinner guest gets evicted by rescuers

An uninvited dinner guest who refused to leave had to be evicted from the Luna Restaurant in Uckfield High Street at 11pm last night (Thursday 29th September 2011). However, this was not a person but a Brown long-eared Bat (Plecotus auritus) which flew in through the open shop door above diners heads before circling round and flying up into a glass atrium over 20ft up in the roof.

Staff at the restaurant turned lights off in an attempt to encourage the bat out but this didn't work so they called out East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) to help rescue the small creature which is not more than 6cm long and weighing about 10grams, with massive unfolding ears.

WRAS founder Trevor Weeks, who lives in Uckfield attended with his partner and fellow WRAS volunteer Kathy Martyn. "I knew from the start that this was potentially going to drive me batty trying to catch this little creature. It was too high up for our normal extending poles so strapped a small net and pole to the end of our extending swan hook, which was then long enough to reach the bat" said Trevor.

The first few attempts failed as the bat flew round in circles trying to avoid the net, but eventually after about 10 minutes of trying, and the bat realising that mealworms were not on the menu, Trevor managed to catch the bat in the net, then slowly and carefully lower the bat to the ground.

"Trevor has been trained by volunteers from the Sussex Bat Group and by Jenny Clark from the Sussex Bat Hospital and has been vaccinated against rabies in case of the very rare chance of being bitten, therefore we do not urge members of the public to handle or attempt to catch bats themselves without seeking advice first and certainly not without wearing suitable gloves" said rescuer Kathy Martyn.

"I checked the bat over briefly but it was clearly in good condition and flying strongly, so I took the bat outside and when the High street was clear, I released him where he flew back towards the restaurant and then up and over the building and around the chimney. All too often we see the nasty cat attacked bats, or those which have been trapped in buildings for several days and which have become very dehydrated and underweight and are clearly not well, but this little chap was in very good condition and it was a privilege to see him fly off back to the wild as well as being good to know we have then in Uckfield too" said Trevor.

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Press Contact: Trevor Weeks, Director, East Sussex WRAS, 07931 523958

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