Photo: Tenerife Cabildo.
It’s the time of year when agriculturalists and livestock keepers become concerned about rodents, especially rats which they consider a threat to their harvests or animals. Poison is the usual first port of call and from my own personal experience I would advise everyone to keep a wary eye on any pets because poison and poisoned bait is frequently used at this time of year. It’s not just pets at risk, however, nor is poison the only concern, and the Tenerife Cabildo’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre La Tahonilla has asked the public to be very aware that the sticky traps for rodents can be gravely perilous for birds of prey and bats.
Previously, calls have focused on birds, with the adhesive pads trapping creatures whose struggling then attracts hunting birds. These in turn themselves get stuck to the trap and face either inability to fly properly because of damaged feathers if they manage to release themselves or a slow starvation if unsuccessful. This year, however, the focus is also on bats, and La Tahonilla has just taken receipt of four Madeira bats (Pipistrellus maderiensis) that had been trapped in an open-air glue trap. Three other bats were not so fortunate and died before being rescued.
These Madeira bats are not only considered an endangered species they are officially protected, an important part of the islands’ biodiversity, specialists say. They are one of seven species of bats here: also here are the Canary Island long-eared bat (Plecottus teneriffae), the Canary Island forest bat (Barbastella barbastellus guanchae), the European free-tailed bat (Tadarida teniotis), the Lesser noctule (Nyctalus leisleri), Kuhl’s pipistrelle (Pipistrellus kuhlil), and Savi’s pipistrelle (Hyspsugo savii). All are insectivorous and highly beneficial for the agricultural and environmental sectors. Like all bat species in Spain, they are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of endangered species, the Madeira Bat being included in the List of Wild Species under Special Protection Regime.
La Tahonilla vet Alejandro Suárez stresses that it’s vital that the public understands that such sticky traps cannot be placed in open spaces where other creatures, especially those classified as endangered or protected, might see or be attracted to them. They ask the public to avoid the use of these traps but say that anyone who feels they have to use one to place it where other creatures cannot see or be attracted to it.