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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bats out of hell: The super-cute little orphans that have survived on a wing and a prayer

By Leon Watson

Sky, Abinger, Bell, Elsa and Hercules the orphaned baby grey-headed flying foxes being looked after by Wildlife Victoria volunteers

They've survived on a wing and a prayer.

And now these cute little winged critters are flying high at a special nursery for orphaned baby bats.

Wrapped up in tiny bunny rugs, they are being looked after by volunteers at Wildlife Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.

Snug as bugs in bat rugs: Melbourne's baby bats are filling the grey-headed flying fox nursery set up each year to care for orphaned bats

The staff are kept busy around the clock refilling formula bottles and rotating dummies for their baby bat friends.

Grey-headed flying fox babies are often rescued after their mums have been electrocuted on powerlines, fatally entangled in dark-coloured fruit tree netting or ripped apart on barbed wire.

The blankets help them feel secure and the orphans are put in a bat nursery where they thrive in the company of their little flying fox cousins.

WV development manager Amy Amato said: 'Coming from colonies we have found they do much better in company than on their own.'

Super-cute: Wildlife Victoria volunteers refill formula bottles and rotate dummies around the clock

Among the bat inmates are Sky, Abinger, Bell, Elsa and Hercules.

Grey-headed flying fox bats are native to Australia and have been known to survive for up to 22 years in captivity. In the wild, they usually live for around 15 years.

They are the largest species of bat in Australia and usually have a dark grey body with a light grey head and a reddish-brown neck collar of fur.

Adult grey-headed flying-foxes have an average wingspan of over 1m and can weigh up to 1kg.

The head and body length is between 230 and 289mm long, with an average of 253mm.



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