Batmobile takes babies home

Australian Bat Clinic director Trish Wimberley feeds some of the 74 rescued bats during a stop in Mackay yesterday en route from the Gold Coast to the Atherton Tableland clinic.
Australian Bat Clinic director Trish Wimberley feeds some of the 74 rescued bats during a stop in Mackay yesterday en route from the Gold Coast to the Atherton Tableland clinic. Tony Martin

IF YOU thought road tripping with your family was a nightmare, try sharing a van with 74 squealing bats.

The rescued 12-week-old flying foxes were being transported - via 'batmobile' - from the Gold Coast to Tolga Bat Clinic when they took a break in Mackay yesterday.

The orphaned bats have had a rough start to life.

After initially surviving Cyclone Yasi on the Atherton Tablelands their mothers all were killed by paralysis ticks.

The bats are travelling hanging from a net in a custom-made bat cage in the back of a van for their journey home.

Australian Bat Clinic director Trish Wimberley said they had been travelling well.

"The bigger cage was especially designed... smaller cages, they get too hot and they start to fight amongst themselves," Ms Wimberley said.

After most of the vegetation was destroyed during Cyclone Yasi, bats in North Queensland spent more time on the ground and this made them more susceptible to scrub ticks.

"They had a bad tick season up there... (Tolga Bat Clinic) rescued about 400-500 bats," Ms Wimberley said.

The clinic was overwhelmed with the workload so Ms Wimberley offered her support.

RSPCA vet Jon Hanger said it would cost about $1000 a bat from the airlift and hand-raising them to their eventual release.

"I am basically here to offer veterinarian support," Mr Hanger said.

"Sometimes when they are all together like this they squabble amongst themselves... they could get injured."

Fruit bats are an endangered species and, although they are one of the species that carry the deadly Hendra Virus, Mr Hanger said they were an important part of the ecosystem.

During the trip the bats, the biggest of which weighs about 450g, are being feed fruit juice from hanging bottles and apples.

"Normally they get banana smoothies... and they eat seasonal fruit as well," Ms Wimberley said.

The RSPCA funded the cost of fuel to drive the bats on their coastal road trip.

Once in Tolga the bats will be in care for a few more months before being released into the wild.


Road trip

  • The bats were airlifted from Tolga to the Gold Coast clinic.
  • All up it will have cost about $1000 a bat when they are released into the wild
  • The bats overnighted at Clairview, camping in the van

Bat Facts

  • Bats are the only flying mammal
  • Bats can swim
  • In Queensland there are two species of bats - Spectacled Flying Foxes and grey headed bats
  • Some bats have wing spans of up to 2 metres
  • Fruit bats and flying foxes are the same thing
  • All bats have eyesight and a sense of smell

Topics:  bats flying foxes gold coast mackay

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