Tolga Bat Hospital Facilities and Expectations

Країна: Австралія;

Дедлайн: 01.12.2016

Тип гранту: Стажування;


Область наук: Биологические; Ветеринарные;


Volunteers must be vaccinated for rabies to handle the bats. Volunteers are needed all year round but especially during tick paralysis season, when hundreds of adults and orphans come into care. It is very busy October to February, particularly November to January. We usually need 4 - 10 full time people, as well as our dedicated group of local part-time volunteers. Our Visitor Centre is open from June to September and we appreciate volunteers at that time with an interest in environmental education. We prefer a minimum stay of one month in busy season, and one week the rest of the year.

Work at the hospital in tick season is varied - Typically volunteers will help prepare large amounts of food for the adults and milk for the babies; feed/clean/ weigh/measure the orphans, clean the cages, handle large amounts of washing, assist in trips to the rainforest to search or release (depending on season); and help with miscellaneous projects around the hospital. We buy fruit in bulk (apples1000kg and bananas 350kgs) and these need to be unloaded into boxes for storage in fridge or food safe. We make large amounts of banana smoothie on particular days, and this is then stored in the freezer and brought out as required. Caring for sick or young animals is like caring for sick or young humans, many tasks are very repetitive but your love and respect for the animals will make it very rewarding.

Help can also be needed with current research projects and Landcare work (maintenance of tree plantings, weed control). It is appreciated if volunteers can stay a minimum of one month at this time of year. Experienced flying fox carers can be an exception to this rule. Tourist volunteers can stay less than 2 weeks but pay higher rates for food and board.

The bat hospital is 7kms or about 4 miles from Atherton. Although a relatively small town, it has all the necessary infrastructure for banking, health care etc

Photos Jenny Maclean: volunteers (above) Luke Ives 2000, (below) Prue Harvey 2003


Check the bus timetable for Transnorth Buses from Cairns to Atherton. Allow 1.5 hours to get from the airport to the bus stop in the city centre by airport shuttle bus. It is only a 5 km trip but the bus might take 15 minutes to leave, and it drops off people at their accommodation places on the way. You can hail down the bus at a point where the airport road meets the highway, without going into town. You'll need to cross the road and stand on the pavement outside the Backpacker Vans. This is only 5 minutes from the airport so you could get a taxi there for about the same cost as the bus into town. Let me know if you want to do this and I'll let the bus company know. The bus leaves from under the Cairns Central Shopping Centre, platform 1. We will meet you off the bus in Atherton. Buses can take you to the airport on the return trip for an extra $5. Just book your flights accordingly.

Tolga Bat Hospital Facilities and Expectations

Rabies Vaccination: Volunteers need to be vaccinated for rabies. This is a series of 3 intramuscular injections of 1ml given over 3-4 weeks. The course must be completed before getting to the bat hospital. Rabies is extremely rare in Spectacled flying foxes, only two bats have ever tested positive. However it is a condition of our permit to make sure all volunteers who handle the bats are vaccinated. You must be able to provide us with a copy of the vaccination certificate or recent blood titre test results. We do take unvaccinated volunteers but they do not handle the bats.

Working Hours: During tick paralysis season, volunteers typically work 7 days per week for an average of about 10 -15 hours per day. November is always the busiest month as we can have up to 200 babies being hand-fed 4 times a day. Volunteers unable to commit to this pace are encouraged to live offsite and roster on as it suits. Every effort is made to give long-stay volunteers a break for a few days during the season.

Outside of tick season the atmosphere is far more flexible, and days off for excursions or a break can be easily accommodated.

Meals: All volunteers are expected to help with preparing and cleaning up evening meals. Preparation of all other meals is each individual's responsibility. Alcohol is allowed at the hospital but its consumption must be in moderation. Smoking must be away from the house.

Costs: Volunteers contribute AU$30-50 per day per person to assist with accommodation, meals, laundry, and Internet access. It does not cover alcohol or snacks or special diet food. We have a sliding scale to recognise such things as length of stay, bat experience, accommodation (eg twin or triple share, tent) etc. Volunteers wanting to undertake research projects pay at the upper end of the sliding scale, as there will be demands on the coordinator's time. We offer a truly unique experience for bat enthusiasts.

Accommodation: Volunteers are accommodated in a two-room self-contained apartment.  The unit contains a separate bedroom with 3 single beds; a living area with TV etc; compact kitchen, bathroom, and verandah area. The apartment provides well above the usual standard of volunteer accommodation. We also have some large confortable gazebo tents that offer more private accommodation. There is power to the tents but all bathroom facilities are up at the main house.

Communications: We provide a Macbook laptop for volunteers to use and wireless internet. Volunteers are encourageed to bring their own computers /tablets /smartphones etc. There is no mobile phone reception here but volunteers can put their phones into the car that goes to town every day to pick up messages, or get a lift into town.

A Day in the Life: In October to December when new babies are coming in daily, we try to have some volunteers working late, and others starting early. Early shift starts by 6am, and late shift ends about 11pm. We all work 10 -12 hours a day though at this busy time of the year, with breaks as often as possible.

What to bring: It will depend upon the time of year you are here as to what to bring. Atherton is known as the cool tropics as we are at an altitude of 800 metres. October to December is a warm dry season. For work in the colony, you will need light clothing with long sleeves, long pants and closed boots. Around the hospital, wear shorts, tshirts and sandals. For 'wearing' baby bats it is good to have some old long tshirts that you can pin up to create a hammock for them to sleep in. We provide all bed linen and towels, and have a lot of tshirts. Please bring a headtorch, personal medications etc

What we look for in a volunteer: Volunteers need to be able to work as members of a team of people committed to the welfare of the bats, as well as to the welfare of the volunteer team. The ability to look after oneself and work well in a team requires a certain type of person as well as a certain level of maturity. For this reason, persons under the age of 22 are less likely to be considered.
We need volunteers whose primary motive is to have fun working with the bats while being a real help to the permanent workers here. We need self-motivated people who can learn quickly and genuinely care for the bats.

Workplace Health and Safety: We require all volunteers to sign off on a checkist of competancies, and produce proof of rabies vaccination status.

Please remember

  1. The bat hospital is also the coordinator's home. Please take notice of and respect her ways of doing things.
  2. If you have an idea to improve things, or repair things, please discuss it first.
  3. You are here to help, not holiday. In return you have the unique privilege of working with bats in a wonderful environment.
  4. During tick paralysis season we usually need to work long days (and nights). It is important to work well as a team. We make every effort to balance long hours with some time off - swimming, country markets, movies, bushwalks etc - but it is not always possible.
  5. Please be aware of your own limits and let someone know if you need help or time off.


We are very thankful to a number of organisations who have been able to help us find volunteers:

1. Green Volunteers who publish the World Guide to Voluntary Work in Nature Conservation

2. WWOOF Willing Workers on Organic Farms

3. Stopdodo in association with is a global portal for environmental jobs and resumes


Photo Ashleigh Johnson: Tressa making banana smoothie


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