By Lee McMichael from Bats Qld
On the way back from a work field trip in Gayndah we travelled via Esk where we noticed a gentleman peering up at the powerline on the main street looking distressed.
A tiny black flying fox pup was hanging on for life up there. We stood for quite a while trying to discern whether the little one was alive or dead. After about 10 minutes, a pair of binoculars and some reassuring chatter we saw a pair of little ears prick up. She was alive! read more »
Tulip was an orphaned baby rescued from Esk. I got the call late afternoon and went to check. I saw the mother high up in a tree looking down and the baby was just hysterical. Seemed like a perfect reunite so I fed the baby, gave it a mumma roll tied to a branch where the mum could easily land and as I was on the way to Long Grass decided to leave the two to get together after dusk. The baby was calm by this stage and there was a helpful caller who would keep an eye on the situation who advised me that there was some altercation with dogs which is why they separated in the first place. 10pm I called to see if the mum was with bub. Sadly no and bub was screaming. Yes you guessed it back in the car for the trek to Esk to colect Tulip. Next day passing Esk on my way back to Batavia the mum was still up the tree fairly obviously injured by her altercation with the dogs and unable to fly. She had not moved. Such a sad situation but I was comforted slightly by knowing how pleased mum would be to not hear her baby screaming.
The recent outbreak of the potentially deadly hendra virus is a cause of great concern to horse breeders and farmers alike. According to the Department of Primary Industries, although the virus can be transmitted from horses to humans, found in bats, there is no evidence that it can be transmitted directly to humans. Flying foxes are critical to the environment and a protected species. Culling is not only cruel but also ineffective. (Ref: Flying Foxes and Hendra Virus; The role of flying foxes in Hendra virus)
There are many effective steps people can take in reducing the risk of horses and people getting infected. See:
Reducing the Risk of Hendra Infection in Horses
Reducing the Risk of Hendra Infection in People
Flying foxes are the only flying mammals and perform the quintessential task of pollinating and dispersing seeds of many native plants. Many trees especially those with white and green fruits rely only on flying foxes for pollination and dispersal of seeds. Losing our flying foxes would also mean losing a vast range of our native plants.
Flying foxes are also responsible for nutrient regeneration and nutrient cycling within the ecosystem, (Ref: Living With Wildlife) by providing large quantities of natural fertiliser across the landscape. They also create gaps in canopies enabling ground- dwelling plants to get more sunlight and rain. read more »
Microbats are natural insect terminators. These little mammals weigh around 3gms - 150 gms and have a wingspan of approx 25 cm. Being nocturnal creatures they use echolocation to navigate and find their insects in the dark. Contrary to popular myth, the bats are not blind and do use their sight as well. The largest species has a body length of only 11 cms. A single microbat can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes and small insects in an hour which has earned them the well deserved reputation of being the nature's mosquito busters. They also pollinate native flowers, many of which can only be pollinated at night. Microbats like their bigger cousins the flying foxes (also called megabats) are a vital part of the ecology of our forests and planet. Recent surveys in Australia have shown that in grain-growing regions, the microbats fed solely on grain weevils, thus helping crop protection by reducing the use of pesticides. Microbats also eat midges, termites, lawn grub moths and other harmful insects. read more »
courtesy Bats Qld and Long Grass Wildlife Refuge Centre
The incidence of Australian Bat Lysavirus (ABLV) in wild bats is about the same as the incidence of HIV in humans: between .09% and 1.2% of free-living population (1,2)
The instance is higher in sick animals that come into care. Bats with ABLV always die.
Responsible for two deaths (one of whom refused treatment). Post and pre-exposure treatment is 100% effective - not one vaccinated person has died from ABLV.
ABLV is saliva-borne and lives a short time outside the body.
ABLV kills. Vaccination is ESSENTIAL. In every continent except Australia and Antartica veterinarians, carers and members of the public are routinely vaccinated.
Humans catch Hendra (originally equine morbillivirus) from horses, not bats
No bat carer has ever caught Hendra. Screening 128 long-term bat carers found none had detectable antibodies (Selvey at al., 2006)
Bats do not suffer from or die from Hendra, but authorities have found antibodies in the amniotic fluid of bats and suspect they may be a host for the disease.... however
"This is all speculation though as we know that bats carry the virus but we don't know exactly how it gets into horses." Dr Stephen Prowse (2008), CEO of the Australian Biosecurty Cooperative research Centre for Emerging Infectious Disease read more »
Bats are among the earliest mammals, experts dating them back to around 50 million years. Cave paintings in the Kimberley's dating back to the last Ice Age which was around 20 - 25,000 years ago feature bats as can be seen in the above image. read more »