Bats make residence on south hill, Armidale

HUNDREDS OF BATS BREEDING: Hundreds of bats have taken up residence on the city's south side.
HUNDREDS OF BATS BREEDING: Hundreds of bats have taken up residence on the city's south side.

Bat breeding season has begun and hundreds of the little mammals have decided to take up residence on the city’s south side.

Armidale resident and Aboriginal elder, Steve Widders has had a bunch of bats backing onto his backyard for the past six weeks.

But he doesn’t mind.

“They’ve been around longer than we have and they have a right to use nature just as much as we do,” he said.

They’ve been around longer than we have and they have a right to use nature just as much as we do.

Steve Widders

“They’re endangered, they should be protected and they are an important part of the biodiversity.

“If you choose to live near bush land, that’s what you will get.”

Reports of dead baby bats (pups) have sparked concerns for school children who use the path near Murray Avenue, between O’Connor Road and Markham Street.

“I think there’s been a few little babies found dead along the path behind my place,” Mr Widders said.

“I think they’re dying from stress, from being disturbed all the time.”

Armidale Regional Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) are currently working together to ensure the bats and people are kept safe.

NSW Health recently sent out a warning, urging people to avoid contact with bats that could carry serious diseases.

Director of Communicable Diseases NSW Branch, Dr Vicky Sheppeard said 142 people across the state have been given rabies post-exposure treatment this year after they were bitten or scratched by a bat.

“People should steer clear of bats at all times,” she said. 

“Four bats were confirmed with the lyssavirus in NSW this year and lyssavirus infection can result in a rabies-like illness which is very serious and, if not prevented, is fatal.”

The Express contacted Armidale Regional Council and are awaiting a response.

What are the symptoms?

The early symptoms are flu-like, including headache, fever and fatigue.

The illness progresses rapidly to paralysis, delirium, convulsions and death, usually within a week or two.

Rabies cases and the three known human cases of ABLV infection have shown a wide variability in the time it takes for symptoms to appear following exposure to an infected animal (from several days to several years).

How are they spread?

Both rabies and ABLV are spread from infected animals to people through bites or scratches, or by being exposed to infected animals’ saliva through the eyes, nose, mouth or broken skin.

Only mammals can be infected. Overseas, dogs are the main transmitter of rabies. Other animals that transmit rabies overseas include bats, monkeys, foxes, cats, raccoons, skunks, jackals and mongooses.

For more information visit the rabies and lyssavirus fact sheet.