Bats are kind, sociable and very intelligent – you can’t help but admire them, assures Polish Barbara Górecká, nicknamed “batmom”, that is, bat mother. She turned her apartment on the ninth floor into a real asylum with these flying mammals.
Barbara Górecká with a bat in her apartment in Szczecin
“Everything started exactly 16 years ago, during a very cold January (…), when bats started climbing out of the ventilation in my apartment,” says the 69-year-old pensioner. Dozens of sick, injured or prematurely awakened bats from hibernation can still be found here today.
“Since then, I have saved 1,600 bats,” says Górecká, who owns an apartment of about 60 square meters in Szczecin in northwestern Poland.
“Mostly, exhausted bats that have been woken up by fireworks, for example, or that think it’s spring because of the heat, and don’t even have enough energy to fly,” explains the bat keeper. According to her, climate change plays a clear role in premature awakening.
Górecká says that she was also initially prejudiced and panicked when she saw the first bat that landed on her daughter’s bed sheet.
“I imagined how the rabies virus would spread throughout the apartment with a bat,” she recalls. But since then she found out everything she could about these animals. According to her, bats are “admirable” and “do not threaten anyone”.
The pensioner has surrounded herself with experts and volunteers who help her when her recovery room becomes overcrowded. However, patients can keep their place for life. Each bat is given a name, its own place, and a table with information about food and medicine.
Barbara Górecká / Bat / Barbara Górecká claims that bats are domesticated very quickly
Some bats live not only in the apartment, but directly on Górecká, on her skin, under her clothes. This is also the case of Cecília, a female bat rescued shortly after birth, whose mother was killed by a cat.
“I don’t have wings for them to hide under, so I put her in my bra so she could feel my heartbeat and the heat. She felt at home there. To this day, he resorts there whenever he can,” smiles Górecká.
“Bat mom” has already gotten used to having bats under her blouse, sometimes she even forgets about it and goes out with an animal in her sleeve. “I even went to church like that once,” she says.
Barbara Górecká / Bat / Barbara Górecká helps a student feed a bat at a school in Szczecin, Poland, February 2024
Bats become domesticated very quickly, after a few days. They learn to eat from their bowl, as evidenced by those who have been living with Barbara Górecká for a long time. They also engage in educational activities when they accompany their nanny to schools to fight against prejudices that spoil their reputation.
“I have to admit that I simply love them, (…) I even get up in the middle of the night to give them antibiotics, this is how you love your child,” says Górecká openly. Sure, “they might not be the prettiest, but that’s not their fault,” he adds.