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Hundreds of bats die in Sydney heatwave

Hundreds of bats die in Sydney heatwave
From Al Jazeera - January 9, 2018

While the Sydney suburb of Penrith was grabbing headlines on Sunday with a temperature of 47C, it was to the southwest of the city that the extreme heat was taking its greatest toll.

In Campbelltown, which is home to a large colony of flying foxes, the hot weather caused some of the bats - mainly youngsters - to succumb to heat stroke, and more than 200 reportedly died.

The local WIRES wildlife rescue group was on hand to rescue those bats found alive. The group rescued and rehydrated 120 bats, reuniting them with their mothers. Another 40 were brought to intensive care.

Young flying foxes are vulnerable to temperatures above 35C, and their parents also suffer once temperatures exceed 40C.

According to veterinary scientist Tania Bishop, the bats seek shade and begin to fan themselves as temperatures rise. Blood vessels in their skin widen to allow heat to radiate out and cool their bodies.

This effect is limited, as fanning tends to increase core body heat due to the energy produced by the pectoral muscles, and eventually this outweighs any cooling from fanning. Volunteers sometimes spray the trees of bat colonies in an effort to keep them cool.

Ongoing problem

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