A bat has been successfully nursed back to health after being found as a stowaway from France in the back of a car boot.
The flying mammal – named affectionately as Bernie by the car salesperson who discovered him – spent two months being cared for.
He was found hiding in the boot of a red Vauxhall Grandland X which had been transported from manufacturers in France to the car showroom in Hartlepool.
It is unclear how long the creature had been living in the back of the car, however his story has a happy ending as he was successfully returned to life in the wild.
Bat expert Gwynevere Kipling told TeesideLive: “It was initially presumed that he came from France in the boot of the car.
“However, after speaking to staff we believe it’s more likely that he snuck in somewhere between the compound in Kent and arriving at the showroom in Hartlepool.”
Bernie was transported to a local vet by the RSPCA after he was discovered, before being transferred to Ms Kipling of the Durham Bat Group.
While Bernie was found to be in reasonably good shape, the Bat Conservation Trust volunteer spent two months making sure he was ok.
She revealed: “He had no injuries but seemed reluctant to fly, we believe this is because he’d been in a confined space.
“We gave him warmth, food, water and plenty of space as well as regular exercise and eventually he built up his strength and gained confidence flying again.
“Once he was cleared for release by APHA we took him to a spot nearby where there is a local community of bats and plenty of resources available for them to give him the best chance.”
He was released back into the wild in County Durham last weekend.
Head of the RSPCA’s wildlife team, Adam Grogan said: “It’s wonderful to see Bernie fit, healthy and back in the wild where he belongs.”
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