Rare Bat Orphan Was Almost Left Behind, But Now He’s Safe (And Photogenic!) [Photos]

He was almost left for dead, but rescuers saved him just in time.

Credit: Dean Morgan

When rescuers were out looking for orphaned bats in Australia came across Tal’ngai Dha’run, a very special bat, they almost left him behind because they thought he was a piece of paper. The rescuers were out on a mission to rescue as many flying fox babies as they could find because a massive starvation event was causing babies to fall out of trees from being so weak. Trish Wimberley, director of the Australian Bat Clinic & Wildlife Trauma Center, told The Dodo:

“[Rescuers] were walking back to the vehicle shining their torch … and noticed what they thought was a piece of paper they had left behind when, all of a sudden, it moved. He would have been eaten by predators if he had stayed on the ground.”

Credit: Dean Morgan

Luckily for Tal’ngai Dha’run, which means “white wing” in the native Yugambeh language spoken in the area that the clinic is in, rescuers were able to identify him as a bat in need and took him in with the other bats.

Upon further inspection, it appeared that the tiny bat was also a grey-headed flying fox—a type of bat—with a genetic variation that caused him to be born with primarily white features. Wimberley explained,

“Tal’ngai is what we call leucistic: His eyes are a beautiful brown and he has one white ear and one black ear. If you look close, you will see he also has a little black penis.”

Credit: Dean Morgan

Tal’ngai may be cute, but he’s one of many victims of the massive starvation event occurring in Australia, which is caused by rapid habitat loss and irregular weather patterns. While many bats are having trouble safely finding food, mother bats are finding it even harder to provide for both themselves and their young. That’s why organizations that treat bats are seeing an alarming spike in the number of orphaned, starving bats recently.

Credit: Dean Morgan

Fortunately, places like this bat clinic are doing all they can to take care of bats that are adversely impacted by this tragedy and they love to take photos of their patients as well. Wimberley said,

“He is so photogenic … you might notice on the inside of his right wing there is the shape of a heart.”

Credit: Dean Morgan

The clinic typically releases its patients back to the wild, but Tal’ngai has some sunburnt parts of his body that are too damaged for him to safely be released with the orphans he arrived with this coming February. Wimberley said that the clinic will keep him in their care for now and that his future will be decided in the next year.

Credit: Australian Bat Clinic and Wildlife Trauma Center

While he may not have the stealth look required to be a successful bat, Tal’ngai doesn’t see himself as any different as he hangs out with the other babies and snuggles with his beloved teddy bear. If you would like to help with Tal’ngai’s care and other bats like him, you can donate here.

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