Austin-area bats found incapacitated by bird repellent gel

Some Austin-area bats are alive, thanks to a local refuge. They were found incapacitated by bird repellent gel outside a local business, and have since been nursed back to health.

The Austin Bat Refuge posted this video on social media, showing a bat found in a sticky and dangerous situation.

"Some of the bats brought to us were barely breathing," said Austin Bat Refuge Manager Lee Mackenzie.

A total of four bats were found over four days on the sidewalk outside an Austin business, all covered in a gooey substance and unable to fly.

"We didn't know what it was, until Lee went down to the business with the ladder and climbed up to look at the sign, close up," said Austin Bat Refuge Executive Director Dianne Odegard.

It turns out it was bird repellent gel that had been applied behind the lighted sign, the kind of tight space where bats like to hang out.

"The bat’s wings were basically stuck to his body, so that when he tried to fly off, he fell to the ground."

The refuge is now caring for the bats, who thankfully were not injured by the fall. They used corn oil to carefully get their wings back open, then washed them off with dish detergent.

The bats are doing okay now, but Mackenzie and Odegard say this situation underscores the dangers posed by this widely-used product, especially for bats.

"If they're not brought to us, they will die. It's a slow, horrible death," said Mackenzie. "We have a feeling it's probably happening all over town."

The Austin Bat Refuge suggests consulting a pest control expert to find a safer product to keep birds away, or just learn to live with them. If you find a bat that is stuck, experts warn: don’t touch it.

"Find a box and place the box over the bat. Put a little weight on top of the box and give us a call. Happy to come take care of that little bat," said Mackenzie.

As for the bats who were rescued, they’re going to be taking a "test flight" once the weather warms up this week.

"If they fly well enough to make a living out there, we're going to go ahead and release them," said Odegard.

FOX 7 Austin was told management at the business in question is working to get rid of the gel. Meanwhile, experts advise eliminating tight outdoor spaces where bats can hang out in the first place.

You can contact the Austin Bat Refuge by calling (512) 799-8847 or (512) 695-4116, or by emailing