27 Apr Flying Foxes: Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital Treats the Puppies of the Sky
Since its official opening in September 2020, Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital has provided treatment and medical care for over 500 wildlife patients, including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.
One day in late January, not one but three flying foxes were brought to the mobile hospital’s world-renowned vet team. Although a mobile veterinary clinic isn’t the resort accommodation a flying fox intends to visit, these three received medical ‘spa’ treatments that put them well on their way to rehabilitation and release.
“Flying foxes are such neat animals,” says Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital’s foundation veterinarian Dr Bree Talbot. “They’re like little sky puppies – gentle and personable and deserving of just as much love and attention as any other animal. It’s quite sad they’re misunderstood. There’s a preconceived idea that they all carry diseases and want to bite you.”
The flying mammal trio quickly stole Dr Bree and the vet nurses’ hearts. It was hard not to fall in love with them, peering out of blankets with their attentive eyes and smooth facial bone structures. “What I loved most about having them here was that they were just as curious of us as we were of them. This is true for most little bats that come into the mobile wildlife hospital, and they don’t seem to understand the importance they have in the wild.”
There are two types of flying foxes native to New South Wales’s Northern Rivers area, the grey-headed and black flying foxes, and they play a vital role in local, natural ecosystems. Wildlife hospitals are seeing more and more of them because of habitat loss and urbanisation. Many of their flying fox patients are victims of barbed wire and fruit net entanglements. “We also see a lot of orphans whose mums have been electrocuted on power lines, and the babies have dropped off,” says Dr Bree.
Luckily the vet team can respond immediately to flying foxes because of required vaccinations. Thanks to the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife, Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital received a Wildlife Heroes Rabies Vaccination Grant to help with rabies vaccinations for the team and future staff and volunteers. “We are so grateful to them,” says Dr Bree, “because these required vaccinations aid in the important work of caring for one of our most prolific pollinators. We love helping our sky puppies!”