Traveling means learning. Seeing things in a new light. Changing a preconception. In Cambodia, we discovered that rats can save lives. And when we recently visited Australia, we found out that bats play a very important role in their ecosystems. Just as bees work every day to pollinate flowers, bats take the night shift on that job. In addition, they help to spread seeds and keep insect populations in check.
Unfortunately, bats nowadays do not have the best working conditions. At Tolga Bat Hospital, outside the city of Atherton in Queensland, Australia, we learned about many of the dangers that these furry flying mammals currently face. Heat waves can potentially kill tens of thousands of them in a day. The fate of bats is also challenged by ticks, barb wire fences, and nets.
Fortunately, these nocturnal insect-lovers get a helping hand at Tolga Bat Hospital. Workers at the hospital, who mostly consist of volunteers, are frequently out on rescue missions to free the fuzzy winged creatures from fences and nets. They also go out every day during the tick season to look for paralyzed bats who lay defenseless on the ground. In recent years, ticks have become a major threat with their paralyzing nerve poison. Without an antidote and proper care, the bats face a certain death.
Sometimes a bat mother’s life cannot be saved, but the baby still has hope if found soon enough. At Tolga Bat Hospital, the orphans not only get food and shelter, but also much needed cuddles and body contact.
Between care and feeding every four hours throughout the day, they have stuffed “sock mothers” and pacifiers for comfort. If the pacifier is taken away or falls out of reach, the babies scream until they get it back.
During the tour at Tolga Bat Hospital, we got to meet one of the orphans, and we completely fell in love when we saw the little creature with a pacifier in its mouth and a firm grip around the fluffy pillow.
We were very impressed with the efforts that staff at Tolga Bat Hospital is putting in to help the endangered bats in the area. Their love and care for these often misunderstood animals clearly shone through on the tour and changed our attitude from slight fear to fascination and gratitude for these winged nightshift workers.
In short, we highly recommend a visit to Tolga Bat Hospital!
Practical information and tips:
- Tolga Bat Hospital is located at 134 Carrington Road, an approximately 10 minutes’ drive out of Atherton in Queensland, Australia.
- Bookings are necessary and can be made by phone +61 7 4091 2683 or by email at [email protected]. There is a maximum of 10 people on each tour, so make sure to book well in advance.
- The tour costs AUD 20 for adults and AUD 10 for children and lasts for approx. 1 hour.
- Tour times vary seasonally. In the summer, they usually start at 4 p.m. and in the winter between 3 p.m.–3.30 p.m.
- Since the hospital relies heavily on voluntary funds, donations are greatly appreciated.