An Australian mother of two said she was forced to flee her home in Edmonton, Queensland, after thousands of bats died on her lawn.
“It was a scene out of a horror movie and there is still putrefied rotting carcasses everywhere,” Philippa Schroor, the woman, told the Cairns Post. She’s one of the dozens of residents who have had to find temporary housing as a heat wave in Queensland killed thousands of bats.
Schroor believes 5,500 bats died on her property in the past week.
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The bats started dying after temperatures reached about 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
Schroor and her children have stayed in a hotel for the past several days.
And as of this week, clean-up crews have made little progress due to the large quantities of the animals that have fallen.
“I cannot return home until I get a cleaner to scrub my walls, furniture, linen, vehicle upholstery before the smell has permeated everything. This is a public health issue,” she said.
“Sadly, the colony here has had significant loss,” she said of the bats, according to The Weather Network. “The volunteers have worked tirelessly to help and now it’s moved into a recovery mode/clean-up of dead bats.”
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Edmonton resident Lisa Eagleton told the Daily Mail that she has had to deal with a similar problem. “In those yellow plastic bins are at least 60 to 80 dead bats,” she said, referring to dozens of bins near her home.
“And then in every bag you see there’s another 20 to 25 dead bats from behind my house,” she continued.
Trish Wimberley of the Australian Bat Clinic said that thousands more bats will likely perish before the heatwave stops.
“When you have temperatures 40 degrees and over, especially for the consecutive days, you will start losing bats,” she said, according to News.com.au. “They can’t sustain an internal temperature over 40 degrees exactly like humans can’t … they just drop out of the trees dead and dying.”
Near Cairns, bat colonies at Townsville and Ingham mostly died, Wimberley said. “All (volunteers are) seeing is hundreds and hundreds of dead bats of a species that is critically endangered. It’s heartbreaking,” she said.
Health officials warned people not to handle the bats.
Some 15 percent of the bat population can transmit the potentially deadly Australian bat lyssavirus or ABLV.
“ABLV is an infection like rabies, which can be transmitted through a bat bite or scratch, or possibly through exposure of the eyes, nose, or mouth to bat saliva,” Doctor Richard Gair, director of Tropical Public Health Services said.
In January 2018, a heat wave hit much of Australia, causing temperatures to soar to 47 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) near Sydney. At that time, thousands of bats suddenly dropped dead.
Kate Ryan, a bat expert, said that heat basically boils bats. “It affects their brain—their brain just fries and they become incoherent,” she was quoted by NPR as saying at the time.
The bats appear to be part of the Pteropus genus. They are known as fruit bats or flying foxes.
“Old World fruit bat, (family Pteropodidae), any of more than 180 species of large-eyed fruit-eating or flower-feeding bats widely distributed from Africa to Southeast Asia and Australia. Some species are solitary, some gregarious. Most roost in the open in trees, but some inhabit caves, rocks, or buildings,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica.