Fly By Night Bat Clinic

Gus, an orphaned Grey Headed Flying Fox, is getting lots of care and attention at the Fly By Night Bat Clinic in Olinda. Picture: Steve Tanner

OLINDA’S Tamsyn Hogarth is a real-life Batwoman.

She and husband Nathan run the only dedicated bat rescue shelter in the state — the Fly By Night Bat Clinic — and have been based in the hills since August last year.

They work with Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary and run their bat clinic from their house, where a room has been converted into a “triage” and another outdoor area is dedicated to caring for the animals.

She said most bats were in their care for a few weeks, but some could be with them for months as they were rehabilitated.
Ms Hogarth tends to the animals around her daytime office job, and spends hundreds of dollars a week on medication and food for them.

They can have up to 50 bats at a time but now have 27 of the animals, which they will look after until they release them back into the wild together in about a month.

One of those is Gus, a grey-headed flying fox, who was rescued when he was 12 days old in November, after his mum got caught in barbed wire and died.

Gus is fed up to five times a day, mainly with fruit and protein powder.

But he is one of the lucky ones — Ms Hogarth said rescued bats were more often than not put down.

Ms Hogarth has been a volunteer wildlife rescuer for 13 years and has been helping bats exclusively for six.

She said there was a need for bat rescuers, with more than 300-400 rescues in Victoria a year.

She advised if people found tangled flying foxes, they should never touch them, and immediately phone a wildlife carer.

If a person was scratched, the bat had to be put down and the person tested for lyssavirus, which is like rabies, she said.

She said most rescues were from netting on backyard fruit trees, which people didn’t realise was dangerous for animals.

“If you can stick your finger through the holes in the net, it’s not wildlife-friendly,” she said.

Netting, which can be bought from stores including Bunnings, should be put tightly over trees, using framing as well, she said.

“It’s a big problem, but no one really likes bats,” she said.

“Ninety-five per cent of people who call us are horrified but they’re just an animal.

“They are a threatened species and on the decline.

“They are (also) a native keystone species and are vital to the pollination and regeneration of our native forests.”

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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: Fly By Night Bat Clinic
Fly By Night Bat Clinic
BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats
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