Saving Microbats in Australia with Brinsea's TLC-40
‘My name’s Ericka and I’m dedicated to the rescue & rehabilitation of Victoria’s microbats. I’m a vaccinated & DELWP registered wildlife carer. I’m passionate about bats, and in particular Microbats.
Microbats are tiny flying mammals. There are more than 80 different types of Microbats in Australia. They usually have large ears, small eyes and wings. The smallest microbat is the little forest bat (Vespadelus vulturnus) and weighs only 3 grams, the largest is the carnivorous ghost bat (Macroderma gigas) it weighs just 150 grams. Microbats are found all across the world except for Antarctica and the Arctic.
I’ve been involved in rescuing and rehabilitating microbats and flying foxes since 2018 and became specialised in microbats in 2019. I started my Facebook page in Dec 2019 with the goal to spread information and photos of some of Melbourne’s smallest, and most elusive, residents. I still actively rescue both microbats and flying foxes, and participate in emergency response efforts to heat events with the flying foxes. Since starting my Facebook page in Dec 2019, I have rescued over 200 microbats.
Microbats of Melbourne
Thanks to funding support from Wildlife Victoria, a not-for-profit Wildlife Emergency Response Service to assist native wildlife in need, I was able to purchase a Brinsea TLC-40 Thermal Life Support Cabinet. This is a much-needed addition to the menagerie as it gives me the ability to house sick or pinky baby bats in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment, giving them the best chance of survival and release. Microbats are a fascinating creature and they can put themselves into a state called torpor, sort of half-way toward full hibernation. A microbat in torpor dramatically drops their metabolism so they need to utilise very few resources to stay alive. This is a useful adaptation to the colder months when insect life decreases. Sick bats often seek out cold spaces to go into torpor. Unfortunately, this lowered metabolism means that while they are in torpor, their bodies are not healing and recovering. The Brinsea TLC incubators allow me to keep the bats at their thermoneutral 32-35oC, or, the temperature that allow their bodies to be most efficient at healing. Baby microbats are born completely hairless and depend on mum, and the colony of other babies, to keep them warm and prevent dehydration from moisture leaving their bare skin. When orphan pups are brought into care, dehydration is our biggest struggle. The TLC units allow us to control the humidity and keep it at the high levels needed (60-80%) to help the pups stay hydrated, and keep them warm, until they grow a nice fur coat of their own, at about 3-6 weeks of age.
Wildlife carers are usually all volunteers that look after animals in our own time, on top of our regular jobs. We can only afford equipment like this through grants from places like Wildlife Victoria, which are only possible through generous public donations, so we are really grateful to anyone who donates.
I’d also like to say a massive thank you to Designer Bums, Baby & Children’s Clothing Store who kindly donated five play mats so I could make cage liners! These play mats are designed for babies to play on and are perfect for the bottom of the TLC and the cages we use. They are more sustainable than puppy pads, and control odour much better than towels! It’s so heart-warming to see Aussie companies supporting Aussie wildlife.
And another big thank you to all the supporters and bat friends that donate funds or supplies.’