Steve is surrogate mum to baby bat

WHEN Steve Thorpe saw what he thought was a big spider crawling across his lounge floor, he quickly jumped up to turn on the lights.

WHEN Steve Thorpe saw what he thought was a big spider crawling across his lounge floor, he quickly jumped up to turn on the lights.

But when he looked closer he saw that the black creature was not a spider but a baby Pipistrelle bat.

The tiny creature, half the size of Mr Thorpe's thumb, seemed to have fallen from the loft of the farmhouse at Westhall, near Beccles, through the fitting for a ceiling spotlight and on to the living room carpet.

Mr Thorpe, who runs a rare poultry farm with his wife Joy, tried to telephone several wildlife charities for help after finding the bat on Thursday night but found nothing was open until the following morning, so set about feeding the tiny animal himself.

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He said: “We knew we had bats in the attic, we've seen them flying in and out of the eaves. I tried to put the baby back but there's no way of getting in, they're in a tiny gap between the interior and exterior walls.

“We're used to having baby birds about the house, and living in the countryside we've taken in abandoned leverets, rabbits and hedgehogs in the past - but never a bat.

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“I used a tiny pipette to feed it some warmed goats milk and it was clearly hungry. After just 36 hours it has become very attached to me and clings on to my shirt pocket while it feeds.”

The following morning he spoke to experts at the Bat Conservation Trust, who told him how to care for the bat for the next few weeks until it is big enough to fly free on its own.

Mr Thorpe has been feeding the bat every two hours, including getting out of bed in the middle of the night. “It's quite a responsibility to take on, it's a big thing to be a surrogate mother to such a small animal,” he said.

But the bat has made a comfortable home, hanging upside down among some soft cloth beneath one of the warming lights which are usually used to incubate the Thorpes' rare breed chicken eggs.

Pipistrelles are the smallest and commonest bats in the UK and when fully grown can have a wingspan of up to 25cm. They feed on small moths, gnats and flies and a single adult bat can eat up to 3,000 insects in one night.

Although the couple have become attached to their miniature new pet, they are keen to find someone who is used to caring for bats to look after it or give them some more advice.

- Anyone who can help Mr and Mrs Thorpe should call 07775 920017.

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