FAWNA rescues baby grey-headed flying fox from Wingham Brush

Margaret, an abandoned grey-headed flying fox pup found at Wingham, sucking on a pacifier. Photo by Rob Hoskinson
Margaret, an abandoned grey-headed flying fox pup found at Wingham, sucking on a pacifier. Photo by Rob Hoskinson

FAWNA has received the 2021 birthing season's first flying fox pup, a grey-headed flying-fox, found on the boardwalk at Wingham Brush.

Weighing in at just 88g the female pup appeared to have been dropped from its mother at birth.

An alert member of the public contacted FAWNA and the pup came quickly into FAWNA's care and was offered a colostrum supplement, vitally important for these flying mammals for their start in life.

The group FAWNA uses a name theme each year for its flying-fox intakes, and in 2021 the theme is "power couples". This first pup found at Wingham is named Margaret.

It is now the time for mothers to give birth and the FAWNA area maternity camps are swelling in numbers. This means that vaccinated flying fox rescuers and carers along the eastern seaboard have now entered the busiest part of their year.

In some cases, baby flying foxes, known as pups, may be found on the ground, hanging alone or hanging low to the ground in trees and shrubs. That means they are in trouble.

Flying foxes, known as our night-time pollinators, are a keystone species. They pollinate the eucalyptus blossom and disperse the seeds of many native trees and without their work, our forests would cease to exist.

The grey-headed flying fox is a threatened species, listed as vulnerable to extinction due to their declining numbers caused by deforestation and competition for habitat.

What do I do if I encounter a baby bat?

As cute as they are, NEVER pick up a flying fox or microbat, even if it is a baby, as they can scratch and attempt to bite you. Even though you are trying to help you are perceived as a threat.

For the sake of the animal, please call a wildlife organisation immediately. In the Port Macquarie-Hastings, MidCoast and Kempsey local government areas, call the only all-species licensed group, FAWNA, on its 24 hour Wildlife Rescue hotline 6581 4141.

Please don't make contact via Facebook as the pages are not monitored.

Give the hotline the exact location and provide as much detail as possible. If near a power pole, record nearest address and the power pole number found on the metal plate - this can help our rescuers locate the exact spot.

Always report flying foxes on powerlines as there may be a live pup on a dead mother at this time of year.

If you find a baby bat on the ground, place a basket (such as a washing basket) or box, bearing in mind that it needs airflow over the animal. If you cannot wait for the rescuer, please write on the container, "Live bat inside. Please do not open or touch. A wildlife rescuer is on the way."

Less than one per cent of the bat population may carry the Australian bat lyssavirus. If you are bitten or scratched by a flying fox or microbat you need to seek immediate medical attention and please don't forget to advise the rescue hotline operator when you call.

Any bite or scratch from a flying fox or bat means that you need a course of injections against the Australian bat lyssavirus that is deadly if untreated.

"Please don't assume someone else has reported an animal - the sooner FAWNA knows about it the sooner we can get help to the animal," FAWNA president, Meredith Ryan said.

"Any flying-fox or bat found alone during daytime hours is in trouble and needs a vaccinated wildlife carer to check it.

"So please, contact your Wildlife Rescue organisation and download the IFAW Wildlife Rescue App for your android or iPhone if you haven't already."

FAWNA thanks Wildlife Rescue South Coast for allowing it to use its flying-fox community message adapted to this region.