We conduct low-level research continuously at the hospital. Much of it relates to treatment issues regarding choice of antibiotic, dressings, and other management tools. In tick season, much relates to the rearing of orphans and treatment of tick paralysis. Even our revegetation projects at the Tolga Scrub are subject to scrutiny. As a result our methods of intervention are steadily improving, and our approach to issues affecting bats and their habitat are changing.

Some particular research projects include:


1. Microchipping

We began microchipping all Spectacled flying foxes released back to the wild in the December 2002. The first year was made possible with money from a Batty Boat Cruise organised in Brisbane by Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. We are using bulk ISO chips. Subsequent years have been possible through grants from WWF and the Synchronicity Foundation. As of March 2006, we have chipped about 1000 bats . Microchipping is a very useful tool for operations within the hospital. All tick paralysis bats are chipped before they leave the hospital, allowing us to follow their progress and optimise their release date. Those who recover quickly can be released sooner that those who spend a long time in hospital. All babies are chipped when they leave the indoor nursery, allowing us to distinguish between up to 300 individuals and monitor weight and growth gains.

 

Microchipping is also giving us very good feedback during the release programme we run for orphans each year. We are able to scan orphans returning to the release cage. They fly down to the cage when it is winched down for feeding. Not all come down to the cage (they wait in the canopy for the cage to be winched back up), but we usually record more than 90% returning to the cage after release. We always record orphans from previous years returning for a free feed. Although we have no idea what percentage of individuals survive their first year, we at least know that the release programme works fro some individuals.

Each year, after release, we encounter orphans in trouble. With microchipping we are able to know if they are 'one of ours', release weights for comparison etc

We scan all bats coming into the hospital. In 2003 tick season we had an orphan from the previous year come into the hospital with tick paralysis. It was great news to know she had survived her first year in the wild, and luckily survived the tick paralysis to be relased again. She was from the first group to be microchipped, and had a mother who died from tick paralysis. In 2005, we had an adult female with baby admitted to the hospital. She had been microchipped after surviving tick paralysis in 2003. She survived this second bout of tick paralysis, to be released again.

2. Tick Paralysis

Money from Merial Pharmaceutical Company allowed Prof Rick Atwell from the University of Queensland to spend a week with us in November 2001. We established some baseline data on the clinical picture of Spectacled flying foxes with tick paralysis. We were also lucky to have a PhD student of Rick's with us for one week in 2003 tick season. See Tick Paralysis page for more information.

Each year we collate data on the incidence of tick paralysis, separating it into gender (dead, euthanased, live, survived), females with and without babies, babies found alone or on live/dead mothers etc

3. Tree Guards at the Tolga Scrub