top of page


Laura Beil

Tri-City Tales, Issue No. 17

When Kate Rugroden moved to North Texas in the early 2000s, she didn’t anticipate that she would one day have a room in her house just for bats—dozens of them, some not much bigger than a Tootsie Roll. They are dark brown, freckled, or jet black. All her bats have one thing in common: They wouldn’t survive without her.

“I get the ‘Why Bats?’ question a lot,” she says. A longtime lover of wildlife—and volunteer for animals—Kate spent one week in 2008 taking a class on bat rehabilitation. She was immediately captivated, and has been a part of the non-profit Bat World Sanctuary ever since. Bats, she says, are essential to life on Earth. Their favorite foods are some of the world’s biggest agriculture pests, like the earworm moth, which inflicts $2 billion in damage every year to crops like corn and cotton. A good-sized bat colony scarfs down 10 tons of insects in a single night. Like margaritas? Thank the bats down in Mexico, which pollinate agave plants. No bats, no tequila.

One Saturday in February, Kate brought her bats to the Lifesaving & Learning Center on the Tri-City Animal Shelter & Adoption Center campus for a class on bat rehab. The training is so specialized that participants came from as far away as Arizona and Vermont. Every bat she has arrived at Bat World Sanctuary through volunteers or a member of the public. There’s Milton, who survived almost being eaten by a cat. Or Rosebud, found on the ground in Corpus Christi with a puncture wound. During the Great Texas Freeze of 2021, she and other volunteers took in more than 100 bats with hypothermia. The bats that can’t be nurtured back to health stay with Kate indefinitely, or live the rest of their lives in a sanctuary. 

She stresses that people who find orphaned, ill or injured bats shouldn’t handle the animals with bare hands because of the rare but serious risk of rabies. (For instructions on what to do with found bats, visit But once in her care, each bat is given every chance to return to the life it once knew— for their sakes, and ours.

bottom of page