Heat Stress Causing Flying Fox Deaths
Grey-headed Flying-foxes are extremely susceptible to heat stress which can cause death when temperatures exceed 42°C, especially when subjected to consecutive extreme heat days.
The severity of heat stress can increase when camps are disturbed at critical times during an extreme heat event. Grey-headed Flying-foxes are listed as a threatened species, therefore it is an offence under both State and Federal legislation to disturb Grey-headed Flying-foxes without a threatened species licence.
What you need before disposing of deceased flying-foxes
Never pick up or touch a flying-fox without protective clothing! Gently prod the animal to check if they are alive or dead.
Wear protective clothing when handling dead bats including:
- Long sleeve shirt and pants.
- Enclosed shoes.
- Protective eye wear.
- Long handle tongs or a shovel to move the dead flying-foxes into a bag.
- Double bag the dead flying-foxes using durable garbage bags.
What to do with injured or distressed flying-foxes that are on the ground
Do not attempt to handle them. Please contact a wildlife carer as soon as possible. There are dedicated groups of people that volunteer their time to help injured wildlife with three organisations servicing this region.
- Wollondilly WIRES - 0457 841 656 (24hr urgent rescue number)
- Sydney Wildlife - 9413 4300 (24hr rescue advice line)
- Wildlife Rescue South Coast - 0418 427 214 (Southern Highlands)
How to dispose of deceased flying-foxes
For small quantities of deceased flying-foxes on your property, place the double bagged animals into your household Council general waste bin. Make sure the bag is tied off securely. Do not overfill rubbish bags. Take care to disinfect and thoroughly clean all equipment afterwards and wash clothing in separate hot water wash.
If you discover significant quantities of dead flying-foxes on your property or any on public land, please contact Council on (02) 4677 1100.
There have been cases that humans can get sick by having contact with flying-foxes, however it is very rare for this to occur. The two main viruses associated with the flying-foxes are the Lyssavirus and the Hendra virus.
Contact or exposures to bat faeces, urine or blood do not pose a risk of exposure to Lyssavirus, nor do living, playing or walking near bat roosting areas, and can only be contracted through bites or scratches.
Hendra virus has only been contracted through human contact with an infected horse. All confirmed human cases to date became infected following high level exposures to body fluids of an infected horse, such as doing autopsies on horses without wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, or being extensively sprayed with respiratory secretions. There is no evidence of human to human, bat to human, bat to dog, or dog to human transmission.
As when handling any dead animal there is the possibility of bacterial infections if the appropriate safety measures are not taken. Take care to avoid the deceased animal’s bodily fluids.
What to do if you are scratched by a deceased or alive flying-fox
If you have been bitten or scratched it is advised to gently but thoroughly wash the wound straight away with soap and water for at least 5 minutes. Then cover the area with an antiseptic cream/serum and see a doctor as soon as possible.