Raising orphaned fruitbats

I’ve recently joined BatCare Brisbane, and just before Christmas was contacted by the president Louise Saunders who told us there were two 5-week-old black flying fox orphans in need of care. They are now almost seven weeks, and have been hanging from a clothes airer next to our Christmas tree most of the day, having bottles four times a day and bits of steamed apple and other soft fruits (no stone fruit – we don’t want them to learn smells that will attract them to orchards later on) and being tucked up in towels in a cosy wooden cage at night. They will soon graduate to the aviary where they can practise flying and stay awake at night, which is better for their species than for our own (and our house is not really designed for clumsy winged babies flying into objects at all heights).

Theaschen gets some climbing practice
Darren gives Theaschen some climbing practice: note the long thumb and long toes
Tica practices flapping
Tica practices flapping

To become a bat carer, you must nowadays be vaccinated against rabies in case you have the misfortune of being bitten or scratched by a bat with lyssa virus – a rare event despite the paranoia in some quarters. To date there have only been two deaths in Australia, but it’s best to be safe. Anyone taking a risk is risking the bat’s life as well, because when someone is bitten the bat is destroyed so that it’s brain tissue can be tested. Darren, Denis and I all had our rabies shots before going to Brazil some years ago, and our recent tests show we still have protection.

Theaschen and Tica will head to a creche at the end of January to remind them they are bats, not humans, and by the time they are released into the wild will have had plenty of practice at flying, tearing apart pieces of large fruit, and socializing with their own speices

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