22nd May 2009
On the evening of Wednesday May 6, an experienced and vaccinated bat carer received a call regarding a flying fox entangled on a barbed wire fence at Palmwoods.
Equipped with a head torch, gloves, a towel and wire cutters, the carer was able to cut free the piece of wire fencing along with the entangled bat.
Realising the extent of injuries to the bat's wing and her mouth, the carer then drove the patient down to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for specialised help to remove the barb wire. The carer christened the flying fox "Wattle" as she was found caught under a flowering wattle tree.
Wattle was anaesthetised and then began the delicate work of freeing her left wing and mouth from the wire barbs. After forty-five arduous minutes Wattle was freed and the staff could start treating her injuries.
Wattle had suffered tears to the membrane on her left wing, and also damage to her mouth as she tried to bite her way free. The corner of her mouth was torn open 1 ½ centimetres across her cheek and this needed to be delicately sutured back together.
Wattle had also broken two of her upper incisors, but fortunately her canines were all intact. Her wing was then covered with a specialised bandage to help with the healing and she was given pain relief, anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic and re-hydrating fluids.
Wattle has now been placed in the care of her rescuer, who reports Wattle has been a very sweet natured and brave little girl. S he especially loves to lap the nectar collected from fresh eucalypt blossom and other native flowers, but at present her mouth is still too sore to allow her to chew the flowers.
Grey-headed flying foxes are a nocturnal species and may travel up to fifty kilometres in one night searching for food, which is made up of nectar and fruit from native trees and shrubs. In the past ten years the total population has dramatically declined due to land clearing which has resulted in loss of habitat and food sources.