Australia

Snuggly blanket bats highlight flying mammals' plight

A baby bat is wrapped in a blanket Image copyright Facebook: Batzilla
Image caption The 'Batzilla' Facebook page wants to educate the world about bats

A Facebook page is melting hearts and changing minds with its pictures of orphaned baby bats wrapped in blankets.

The 'Batzilla' community page has already garnered more than 155,000 likes.

Denise Wade, a co-ordinator at Queensland's Bat Conservation and Rescue group, set up the page to highlight the plight of Australia's bats and flying foxes.

"It functions primarily as an education tool, something I can use to highlight the truth about bats and to dispel misinformation about their species," Ms Wade told the BBC.

"I also hope the truth will speak for itself: that bats are incredibly beautiful and intelligent animals."

Native bats and flying foxes are protected in Australia, but urban bat populations are a source of controversy.

Urban development is encroaching on bat habitats and residents worried about disease, noise and odours have sought to move bat colonies away from their houses.

Image copyright Facebook: Batzilla
Image caption This baby bat was named 'Reka' after a popular poll on the Batzilla Facebook page
Image copyright Facebook: Batzilla
Image caption This photo of an injured bat drew close to 2,000 likes on the Facebook page

Ms Wade hopes to convert more people into bat lovers.

"More bats are moving into urban areas and this could cause conflict with humans," she said.

"We need to understand them more and we can only do so by changing the way we do things so we can all live in harmony."

She said the name 'Batzilla' did not carry any meaning. "It was just something fun I came up with."

Image copyright Facebook: Batzilla
Image caption Ms Wade says that her rescue group also deals with flying foxes, like this baby

Many of the page's fans come for the pictures of baby bats, which are often photographed wrapped in thick blankets.

"The problem these little ones face is when they come out of the incubator, they chill off very quickly and it can become dangerous, so we need to keep their bodies warm," Ms Wade said.

Ms Wade has expanded her social media footprint with a YouTube account, which features videos of her baby bats and flying foxes.

Image copyright BATZILLA: DENISE WADE

She praised her "wonderful group of followers".

"I spend as much time as I can with updates as I think social media can be a very important education tool," she said.

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