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Tolga Bat Hospital

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PollyannanAdded by Pollyannan
Tolga Bat Rescue and Research Inc
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Information taken from the Tolga Bat Rescue and Research Inc website.


http://www.tolgabathospital.org/about_home.htm

IntroductionEdit

We are a community group in Australia working for the conservation of bats and their habitat.

Our activities began in 1990, the year tick paralysis was discovered in flying foxes on the Atherton Tablelands. We originally worked with the Spectacled flying foxes resident at the Tolga Scrub, and hence our name. We now work with any bat, megabat or microbat, from anywhere. Bats come to us for rescue from hundreds of kilometres away, and we also take bats for sanctuary who are being retired from zoos. We became incorporated in 2002 as a not-for-profit community group, listed on the Register of Environmental Organisations in 2007, and a registered charity in 2008. This enables us to accept tax-deductible donations. In 2009 we opened the Visitor Centre.

HospitalEdit

We have world-class facilities for the bats, making work for the volunteer as safe and efficient as possible, and the life of the bats in out care as stress-free as possible:

  • A very smart airconditioned hospital built in 1998
  • The Battery, a large flight cage for megabats built in 2003.
  • A large 8 metre diametre octagonal microbat cage built in 2004.
  • An new 8 metre by 4 metre cage for tick paralysis season, built in 2005.
  • An outdoor high horizontal netting structure for flying foxes living outside the cage, built in 2006.
  • The release cage out at Tolga Scrub in 2007
  • The Visitor Centre in 2009. Glass viewing panels put into microbat and tick season cages.
  • A new internal cage in the Battery for Little Reds to feed separately to the larger flying fox species, in 2009

ResearchEdit

There is very little known about Spectacled flying foxes (SFF). Our rehabilitation work places us in an ideal position to engage in research. Each year we handle 1 - 300 relatively healthy orphans, 2-300 adults with tick paralysis over half of which are dead or euthanased, as well as about 100 from barbed wire fences.

However it is impossible on our own, in terms of both expertise and funding. We therefore welcome partnerships with scientists, veterinarians and others interested in bats. We have links already with various organisations engaged in bat research eg Queensland Parks and Wildlife, James Cook University, CSIRO, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, University of Queensland.

Students wishing to undertake projects with us need to be mindful that the bat hospital is not funded, nor is the hospital coordinator on a salary. Students will need to contribute financially, and will be considered according to their individual circumstances eg time required by hospital coordinator before, during and after the project; accommodation and food if living in.

VolunteeringEdit

Volunteers must be vaccinated for rabies to handle the bats. Volunteers are needed all year round but especially during tick paralysis season, when hundreds of adults and orphans come into care. It is very busy October to February, particularly November. We usually need 4-6 full time people, as well as our dedicated group of local part-time volunteers. Our Visitor Centre is open from June to October and we appreciate volunteers at that time with an interest in environmental education. We prefer a minimum stay of one month in busy season, and one week the rest of the year.Work at the hospital in tick season is varied - Typically volunteers will help prepare large amounts of food for the adults and milk for the babies; feed/clean/ weigh/measure the orphans, clean the cages, handle large amounts of washing, assist in trips to the rainforest to search or release (depending on season); and help with miscellaneous projects around the hospital. We buy fruit in bulk (apples1000kg and bananas 350kgs) and these need to be unloaded into boxes for storage in fridge or food safe. We make large amounts of banana smoothie on particular days, and this is then stored in the freezer and brought out as required. Caring for sick or young animals is like caring for sick or young humans, many tasks are very repetitive but your love and respect for the animals will make it very rewarding.

Help can also be needed with current research projects and Landcare work (maintenance of tree plantings, weed control). It is appreciated if volunteers can stay a minimum of one month at this time of year. Experienced flying fox carers can be an exception to this rule. Tourist volunteers can stay less than 2 weeks but pay higher rates for food and board.

The bat hospital is 7kms or about 4 miles from Atherton. Although a relatively small town, it has all the necessary infrastructure for banking, health care etc

Getting thereEdit

Check the bus timetable for Transnorth Buses from Cairns to Atherton. Allow 1.5 hours to get from the airport to the bus stop in the city centre. Bags can be left around the corner from the bus stop at Gilligans Backpackers for $2 a day - if you have a few hours to spare. We will meet you off the bus in Atherton. Buses can take you to the airport on the return trip for an extra $5. Just book your flights accordingly.

Tolga Bat Hospital Facilities and ExpectationsEdit

Rabies Vaccination: Volunteers need to be vaccinated for rabies. This is a series of 3 intramuscular injections of 1ml given over 3-4 weeks. The course must be completed before getting to the bat hospital. Rabies is extremely rare in Spectacled flying foxes, only two bats have ever tested positive. However it is a condition of our permit to make sure all volunteers who handle the bats are vaccinated. You must be able to provide us with a copy of the vaccination certificate or recent blood titre test results. We do take unvaccinated volunteers but they do not handle the bats.


Working Hours: During tick paralysis season, volunteers typically work 7 days per week for an average of about 10 -15 hours per day. November is always the busiest month as we can have up to 200 babies being hand-fed 4 times a day. Volunteers unable to commit to this pace are encouraged to live offsite and roster on as it suits. Every effort is made to give long-stay volunteers a break for a few days during the season.

Outside of tick season the atmosphere is far more flexible, and days off for excursions or a break can be easily accommodated.

Meals: All volunteers are expected to help with preparing and cleaning up evening meals. Preparation of all other meals is each individual's responsibility. Alcohol is allowed at the hospital but its consumption must be in moderation. Smoking must be away from the house.

Costs: Volunteers contribute AU$30-50 per day per person to assist with accommodation, meals, laundry, and Internet access. It does not cover alcohol or snacks or special diet food. We have a sliding scale to recognise such things as length of stay, bat experience, accommodation (eg twin or triple share, tent) etc. Volunteers wanting to undertake research projects pay at the upper end of the sliding scale, as there will be demands on the coordinator's time. We offer a truly unique experience for bat enthusiasts.

Accommodation: Volunteers are accommodated in a two-room self-contained apartment. The unit contains a separate bedroom with 3 single beds; a living area with TV etc; compact kitchen, bathroom, and verandah area. The apartment provides well above the usual standard of volunteer accommodation.

Communications: Please bring a phone card with you and ask before using phone, fax or Internet facilities. There is only one telecommunication line into the house so long connection times are not possible. We provide a Macbook laptop for volunteers to use and wireless internet. Volunteers are encourageed to bring their own computers.

A Day in the Life: In October and November when new babies are coming in daily, we try to have some volunteers working late, and others starting early. Early shift starts by 6am, and late shift ends about 11pm. All work 10 -12 hours a day though at this busy time of the year, with breaks as often as possible.

What to bring: It will depend upon the time of year you are here as to what to bring. Atherton is known as the cool tropics as we are at an altitude of 800 metres. October to December is a warm dry season. For work in the colony, you will need light clothing with long sleeves, long pants and closed boots. Around the hospital, wear shorts, tshirts and sandals. For 'wearing' baby bats it is good to have some old long tshirts that you can pin up to create a hammock for them to sleep in. We provide all bed linen and towels, and have a lot of tshirts.

What we look for in a volunteer:

Volunteers need to be able to work as members of a team of people committed to the welfare of the bats, as well as to the welfare of the volunteer team. The ability to look after oneself and work well in a team requires a certain type of person as well as a certain level of maturity. For this reason, persons under the age of 22 are less likely to be considered. We need volunteers whose primary motive is to have fun working with the bats while being a real help to the permanent workers here. We need self-motivated people who can learn quickly and genuinely care for the bats. |}

ResearchEdit

There is very little known about Spectacled flying foxes (SFF). Our rehabilitation work places us in an ideal position to engage in research. Each year we handle 1 - 300 relatively healthy orphans, 2-300 adults with tick paralysis over half of which are dead or euthanased, as well as about 100 from barbed wire fences.

However it is impossible on our own, in terms of both expertise and funding. We therefore welcome partnerships with scientists, veterinarians and others interested in bats. We have links already with various organisations engaged in bat research eg Queensland Parks and Wildlife, James Cook University, CSIRO, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, University of Queensland.

Students wishing to undertake projects with us need to be mindful that the bat hospital is not funded, nor is the hospital coordinator on a salary. Students will need to contribute financially, and will be considered according to their individual circumstances eg time required by hospital coordinator before, during and after the project; accomodation and food if living in.

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