Tolga Bat Hospital - Craig Smith

We trialed satellite telemetry collars for Dr Hume Field's team from Queensland Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2005. The collars were being used on LRFFs in the Northern Territory as part of the Henipavirus Ecology Research Group project (www.henipavirus.org). Observations over the initial three-month trial on 10 animals included collar loss, localized hair loss and skin-reddening/trauma in some animals. The study, which began in August 2005, continued with 3 of the collared LRFFs for a further 3 months.

The total weight of the transmitter, collar and bracket was only 20g. Collars were placed on Little Reds weighing 400-450g. Bats that were captured in the field though weighed about 650g.

The Little Red trials were all on flying foxes living in our large flight cage, of which only 2 had some ability to fly. Included in the trial was a 10 month old Spectacled flying fox who could fly.

photo: Craig Smith fitting collar on anaesthetised Little Red flying fox

 

Tolga Bat Hospital - Collar Abrasion

Tolga Bat Hospital - Fur Wearing

 

We have also worked with CSIRO in Atherton to trial both satellite and radiotracking collars on Spectacled flying foxes. There have been similar issues to those with the Little Red trials, with collars rubbing, and somel intolerance of them. The CSIRO trials were all done on flying foxes that could fly, but were choosing to live at the bat hospital outside the cage.

 

Photo left: This bat wore away fur by constantly licking, as did one bat in the Little Red study. One bat in both trials showed this intolerance to the collar, both beginning the licking behaviour in the first few hours. To exclude these bats from use in research, consideration could be given to collared bats being held for at least 24 hours before release. Suitable housing would need to be provided and their stress levels monitored.

Photo right: In both studies, some collars swung around to the front, but in all cases the bats were able to swing them back again.

  Tolga Bat Hospital - Fitted Collar
         

A rise in the number of reported Hendra spillover events after 2011 has led to increased funding from the State and Commonwealth for flying fox research.

Some of this funding has gone to CSIRO and is being spent on improving collar design including GPS technology. Bats in our facility have been used for trialing collars at various stages of the design process.

  Adam