Caring for sick, injured, and baby flying foxes is all in a day’s (and night’s) work for Fauna Rescue of South Australia. In this BBC Earth video from Cities: Nature’s New Wild, Fauna Rescue caregivers talk about how they help rehydrate the animals, returning them back to their habitats as quickly as possible. Flying foxes are fruit-eating bats, named for their fox-like faces. They have become populous in urban areas around Australia in the last few decades due to development within their native forest habitats. From National Geographic:
Outside city limits, developers are clearing the plants the bats feed on, as rural areas are increasingly converted into farmland and housing developments, or cut down for wood pulp. [ecologist Justin] Welbergen argues that if the destruction continues, there will be fewer and fewer food options for the population, which makes habitat destruction the species’ primary threat.
Global warming puts additional pressure on the flying-fox population. During extremely hot days, which are on the rise, the bats can die from heat stress, a condition they signal by clumping together and slowly sliding down tree trunks in a furry mass. If heat waves occur in the spring, while babies are still completely dependent on their mothers, Brend says that could kill almost an entire year’s worth of offspring.
With so many factors working against the bats, its seems the only way to ensure they continue filling the night sky is to better understand their inner workings. More researchers are focusing on flying-foxes than ever before, says Welbergen, and their collective results should help craft more evidence-based rescue efforts.
Read more about bats and climate change in Australia at Smithsonian.com.