When to come: Volunteers are needed all year but especially during tick paralysis season when hundreds of adults and orphans come into care. These are the months from October to February. We usually need 4 to 8 full-time people, as well as our dedicated group of local part-time volunteers.
We prefer a minimum stay of one month in busy season, and two weeks the rest of the year. Experienced flying fox carers can be an exception to this rule. Apply as early as you can to maximise the chances of coming at your preferred time.
Type of work: Work at the hospital in tick season is varied. Typically volunteers will help prepare large amounts of food for the adults and orphans; feed/clean/weigh/measure the orphans, clean cages, wash large amounts of bat and human laundry, participate in trips to the rainforest to search or release (depending on season); and help with miscellaneous projects around the hospital. We buy fruit in bulk (apples1000kg and bananas 350kgs) and these need to be unloaded into boxes for storage in fridge or food safe. We make large amounts of banana smoothie on particular days, and this is then stored in the freezer and brought out as required. Caring for sick or young animals is like caring for sick or young humans, many tasks are very repetitive but your love and respect for the animals will make it very rewarding. Some volunteers also help with visitor tours.
Outside of tick season the work is less varied and demanding as a lot fewer bats are in care.
Rabies Vaccination: Volunteers who work with bats must be vaccinated for Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV), the most closely related virus to rabies. ABLV is extremely rare in Australian bats but it is a condition of our permit that all bat handlers are vaccinated. You must be able to provide us with a copy of the vaccination certificate (and recent blood titre test if you have one) before you arrive.
The Australian standard for the prevention of Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV) is a series of 3 intramuscular injections of 1 ml rabies vaccine over 3-4 weeks. Experience has shown that the series is protective for both pre and post exposure. There is no experience or proof that other protocols as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for rabies prevention will suffice for ABLV. Australian Health authorities will therefore not accept a rabies titre from these other protocols as valid proof of protection against ABLV. These other protocols involve a shorter vaccination period and sometimes intradermal rather than intramuscular injections.