Hundreds Of Bats Are Dead Because Sydney Heatwaves Fried Their Brains

"They basically boil"

Over the weekend, Western Sydney was the hottest place on earth. This is not an exaggeration — Penrith, which cracked 47.3 degrees, was literally the hottest place on the planet, and the rest of the country wasn’t far behind.

Across Western Sydney, hundreds of young flying foxes died because the temperature quite literally fried their brains, despite the desperate attempts of wildlife rescue volunteers to save them.

“There were dead bodies everywhere,” Campbelltown flying fox colony manager Kate Ryan told the Camden Advertiser

“I don’t know how many times I bent down and got on my knees to pick up a dead baby,” she said, explaining that baby flying foxes are particularly susceptible to heat stress.

“It affects their brain – their brain just fries and they become incoherent….they basically boil.”

The final body count reached over 200, though further hundreds remained in the trees. On Facebook, the Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) estimated that the total death toll could reach the thousands.

Wildlife volunteers spent the peak of the heatwave on Sunday trying to rescue and rehydrate the flying foxes before it was too late, and they were able to successfully reunite many babies with their mothers. According to a Facebook update this afternoon, around forty pups remain in critical care, and it is as yet unclear whether they’ll pull through.

“Today was a dreadful and heartbreaking day,” Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown wrote on Facebook on Sunday afternoon. “So many little lives lost due to the extreme heat and not enough canopy cover to shade them or keep them cool.”

“Please spare a thought for everyone who helped and attended today and for the many bats who sadly didn’t make it as well as the many mothers who returned calling for their babies who sadly were not calling back”.

Sydney’s flying fox colonies have also undergone recent stress during the New Years Eve Fireworks, which led to many other bats dying. Local Campbelltown wildlife groups are urging people to sign a petition to have the planned Australia Day fireworks at that site cancelled, given the endangered local flying fox colony there.

The impact on bats isn’t the only recent evidence of increasing temperatures affecting wildlife. Rising sea temperatures near the Great Barrier Reef made headlines just this morning after it was discovered the heat was turning most Green Turtle hatchlings female, posing a grave threat to the future reproduction of the species.

In fact, it’s probably easier to list the things that aren’t changing as the planet slowly becomes hotter. Take note, Federal Government. Any day you want to address global warming would be great.


You can learn more about WIRES, and donate or volunteer if you’d like, at its website here. Volunteers are currently posting updates on the condition of the baby bats they rescued on Facebook here.