CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — While all of the merchants inside Sunrise Mall have closed up shop and left the building, some newcomers have taken up residence in the mall's parking garages.
Thousands of bats now inhabit them.
"We have seen them, and heard them," Sharon Cody said.
A whole colony of bats has taken up residence in both of the parking structures at the old Sunrise Mall.
"They're totally harmless. They don't bother us. They don't, you know, attack us or anything," Cody said.
Sunrise Mall management distributes flyers to its tenants and customers. The flyers come from the Texas Department of State Health Services detailing the do's-and-don'ts for when bats are around, including tips like don't pick up a bat or touch it because they are known carriers of rabies.
"No, they're not a threat, they're just doing what bats do," said Kim Withers, assistant professor of biology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
According to Withers, whether flying around or if they're on the ground, just leave bats alone.
"Well partly because it's dark and partly because it's a place that they're unlikely to be disturbed, and it's all the places where they can find the crevices that they like to climb up into to sleep during the day. Because they want to sleep during the day," Withers said.
Mall management was informed that some of the bats are considered endangered species and should be left alone where they are.
The parking structures are closed to the public so human contact with the flying mammals should be minimal. Bat experts remind residents that come mosquito season, the bats will be doing their part to keep the pests in check.