Eighty three bats discovered behind St. Francis mural in Menlo Park

Workers preparing to power wash the side of a Peninsula home made a surprising discovery when they found 83 bats nesting behind an outdoor mural. 

It happened Tuesday morning at an undisclosed location in Menlo Park. Ironically, the bats were found behind a colorful mural of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals.  

“The irony of these bats being found behind a mural of the patron saint of animals was not lost on us,” said Buffy Martin-Tarbox, a spokeswoman for the Peninsula Humane Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 

When the Mexican free- tailed bats started to fall to the ground, the workers called the center for assistance.  

“Our staff quickly arrived and were concerned the bats may have been injured so we carefully scooped them up and brought them to our wildlife center for evaluation,’’ she said. 

Staff gave the bats oxygen and put them into incubators to help with circulation and increase their body temperature.

“We were able to help restore them to full health and return them to the wild,’’ Martin-Tarbox said. 

Mexican free-tailed bats are native to California and are a species of special concern in California as a result of declining populations. They are medium size bats, on average about 3.5 inches long. Their name comes from the size of their tail, which is almost half their total body length.

Eighty three bats is the highest number of bats the center has ever received at one time.

“On average we receive one bat a month, so eighty-three bats were quite unusual for us,’’ said Martin-Tarbox. 

But there’s a little more irony to this batty story. After their release at dusk Tuesday, many of the bats flew right back to the St. Francis mural.