Wednesday 26 June 2019

This woman has saved hundreds of bats and her YouTube channel shows how surprisingly cute they are

Sue Morris rescues bats stranded on power lines, on barbed wire and in fruit nets.

(Sue Morris/PA)
(Sue Morris/PA)

By Taylor Heyman, Press Association

Bats may seem creepy to some, but a woman from Australia is showing their adorable side with a series of YouTube videos.

Sue Morris, from Brisbane, has dedicated the last four years to saving and rehabilitating flying foxes (a type of mega bat) after hearing about the council’s plans to drive them out of the local park.

In February 2017, she set up the Batusi Nights YouTube channel, documenting the wonderful bats she rescues from all manner of predicaments.

The channel records bats from rescue through rehabilitation, to eventual release. Bats in long-term care are given names and followers can see check in on their progress.

“Adult and juvenile rescues come to strife for a variety of reasons, mostly man-made,” Morris told the Press Association.

“The most common are entanglement on barbed wire fences, in fruit tree netting, and in discarded fishing line along river banks. Vehicle collisions lead to concussion, spinal injuries and fractures.

“Cocos Palms (an ornamental imported weed – fashionable a century ago) manage to kill flying foxes in a variety of ways – entanglement in dried fronds, toxic green fruit, seeds jammed in teeth leading to starvation, or dog attacks while foraging for fallen fruit under trees.”

Another issue bats face is their intolerance of heat. Above 42C, the creatures are at risk of dying from heat stroke – in 2014 at least 50,000 bats died in Queensland in a single day.

Bat Rescue Inc., Morris’s volunteer group, not only saves bats, but works on advocacy and prevention.

For instance, they provide free high-quality wildlife-safe netting to home-owners at rescue missions in exchange for taking their dangerous netting down, and promote the replacement of dangerous and unnecessary barbed wire fencing, particularly in urban areas.

Bats may have a reputation for being scary, but Morris has fallen in love with these lovable creatures.

“They’re so intelligent, inquisitive and social that they’re fascinating and a delight to raise,” she said.

“Also, unlike many other wildlife orphans who have to be kept at a distance to stop them ‘humanising’, flying foxes need a high level of physical touch and affection for normal development.

“Their mothers carry them non-stop for the first month of life, and continue to nurse them for up to six months, and, without some replacement for this close nurturing, they become anxious and delay developmentally. So we have to bond closely with them, but, conveniently enough, once they start flying, they start to lose interest in us.”

Morris said not only are bats lovely creatures to be around, they are also essential for plant-life. Flying foxes are long-range pollinators, essential for the survival and genetic diversity of many of Australia’s trees.

“They really are environmental superstars,” she said.

“Meanwhile, in Australia, they’re commonly referred to by some ignorant politicians and sections of the public and media as ‘vermin’, ‘flying rats’, ‘disease-ridden pests’. The hatred of them seemed to start in the early days of Australian ‘settlement’ where they were seen as orchard pests.”

Morris’s videos showing the bats in her care having their claws painted, being massaged and eating fruit are gaining popularity online. The Batusi Nights YouTube channel has more than 2,000 subscribers.

“Having these cute and entertaining animals in my home soon reawakened a dormant interest in photography and then video,” said Morris.

“I’d been casually recording footage for a couple of years before starting the Batusi Nights YouTube channel, to contribute to education on bats and show people how beautiful they are.

“I now need to do something about curating my collection of still photography, before it completely gets out of control.”

Press Association

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