Some people are afraid of bats, but they are also incredibly important to their ecosystems. They are responsible for pollinating a huge number of plant species and dispersing seeds. They also prevent insect populations from growing out of control.
Although they may be small, bats make up around 20% of the world's mammals. They come in second only to rodents.
Oceania has some of the most unique bat communities in the world due to its island geography. But, disease outbreaks and habitat destruction there — and around the world — are creating obstacles for bats. There are currently at least 22 endangered and critically endangered bat species in Oceania.
Luckily, there is a place in Queensland, Australia that is working to combat the destruction of bat populations. The Tolga Bat Hospital became an incorporated not-for-profit in 2002, and has been providing a home for this furry mammal ever since. And the photos are heart melting.
Take a look inside one of the cutest animal hospitals you didn't know that you needed to see:
Spectacled flying foxes are often at the hospital. The smaller ones are brought out to the veranda in the morning to ensure that they get enough sun. There, they can just hang around and flap their wings while warming up.
This tube-nosed bat was born at the hospital after it's mother was rescued from a barbed wire fence. When mothers give birth at the hospital, both are kept until the baby starts to fly. They are then released back into the wild together.
Flying foxes are often some of the hospital's main patients. The hospital is trying to help the orphans of the thousands of flying foxes being killed by the government on Mauritius, an island about 4,000 miles away from Australia in the Indian Ocean.
The hospital has recycled fur coats so that the baby bats can snuggle up in them. The coats were donated by Snuggle Coats, a company that dissembles fur goods and sends them to animal groups at no charge for rehabilitation purposes.
A lot of bats that come to hospital are suffering from tick paralysis. This mom and baby pair got to snuggle before the mom was euthanized as a result of her sickness. The baby remained in the care of the hospital, where it grew perfectly well in the nursery.
The hospital has some bats that will never recover enough to be released back into the wild. This leaf-nosed bat, Diadem, has lost too much finger bone and membrane to survive on her own. She is now used as an educational bat for when tourists visit. Tickets are less than $20 to see these beautiful animals up close and help the cause.