22nd October 2009
This week's patient is Cutter, a nine day old orphan Grey-headed Flying Fox, who was found clinging to the body of his dead Mum. His Mum had been shot and she had died a couple of days earlier leaving a helpless Cutter unable to fend for himself.
Fortunately Cutter was found and taken to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for emergency care and treatment.
The Vet examining Cutter found he was severely dehydrated as he had not had milk in those days since his Mum had died. He also was suffering from pneumonia which he developed over the cold nights struggling with no extra body warmth from his Mum. He was also covered in fly eggs and the maggots had eaten a ten cent piece size hole in his wing membrane. Cutter's prognosis was bleak.
But being a courageous little fighter, Cutter has now stabilised to the point where he has been placed with a bat carer. He is currently fed 6mls of soy baby formula every four hours (around the clock) and he has even gained weight. Cutter will be with his carer for about four months and then he will be placed in a bat crèche with other orphans to begin preparation for life as a wild flying fox.
The Grey-headed Flying Fox is listed as vulnerable in the wild and as a species they are widely misunderstood. The role of Grey-headed Flying Fox is to pollinate native trees and disperse their seeds keeping the native forests healthy. This is accomplished as they feed on a tree's flower pollen and nectar. Travelling from tree to tree, they transfer pollen as they go. They also feed on native fruits; as the seeds travel through their digestive system and leave the body in faeces, the seeds germinate many kilometres away from the parent tree. Keep in mind when a flying fox eats orchard fruit it is doing so because the natural food has been cleared and to survive it must eat every day, just like us.
Call the Australian Wildlife Hospital on 1300 369 652 for all wildlife emergencies.