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Revised draft A Guide to the Use of Australian Native Mammals in Biomedical Sciences submission

ID: 
11
B. Please provide contact details

Personal information provided, e.g. contact details, will only be used for the purposes of developing resources relevant to this consultation document and will not be disclosed outside of members of NHMRC staff and NHMRC Committees. Such Information will not be used or disclosed for any other purpose, without prior written consent.

First Name: 
Toni
Last Name: 
Mitchell
E. Specific comments
Specific comments: 
Bats

SUB-CLASS THERIA: EUTHERIANS

 MEGABATS

 Capture, Handling, Marking for Identification, Transport

 Do not support the use of large poles with hooks to capture Flying-foxes, regardless of the experience of the user (pge 85).

 When transporting Flying-foxes in carry-cages or bags, use an airconditioned vehicle as they can over heat in bags and in enclosed plastic carry-cages (pge 86).  Plastic carry-cages should have doweling or a natural branch secured through the top to allow Flying-foxes to grip and hang naturally.

 Flying-foxes do not use nest boxes (pge 86).

 Captive Husbandry

 Dietary requirements need to be specific (consult Flying Fox Manual http://www.stickeebatz.com/ ).  Leaf vegetables such as Bok Choy and Celery, along with raw corn on the cob can be fed.  Wombaroo High Protein Supplement should be sprinkled over fruit, in described amounts (see http://www.stickeebatz.com/ ).  Fruit should be presented in a number of ways (baskets as described), but also hung on fruit skewers and spread throughout the enclosure to encourage foraging.  Native ‘bush tucker’ that the specific species of Flying-fox feeds on should be offered fresh at least 3 times a week.  ‘Bush tucker’ includes fruits, flowers, and foliage from native flora.  Fruit skewers can be hidden amongst the bush tucker.  Both fresh and salted water should be on offer at all times.  Artificial nectar (Wombaroo Honey Eater) should also be offered in ‘rat’ drinkers.

 The inside of the cage should be lined with prawn netting (or similar) so that the Flying-foxes can hang from that and not directly hang from the wire as it is too sharp and may cause injuries – there should be a gap between the external wire and the internal prawn netting to prevent legs from reaching through and hanging on wire.

 Environmental enrichment (EE) is an absolute necessity (don’t know why it is stated that it is “generally not necessary”) as these animals are very inquisitive and intelligent.  This especially needed if the same animals are being kept in captivity for any length of time (over 4 weeks).  Provision of bush tucker can form part of EE.  Interior ‘decoration’ to increase EE should include trunks of trees that have different bark textures – these can be spaced (and secured) throughout the cage.  Flying-foxes will chew on the bark of Melaleuca species.  Strong rope can be strung along the length of the cage and in lengths from the roof providing swinging and climbing structures. Animals should be able to exhibit natural behaviours, the provision of appropriate (safe) environmental enrichment will facilitate this.

 The cage should have a covered section to provide protection from the elements, allowing the Flying-foxes to move between exposed and protected areas as wanted.  Flying-foxes must have access to sunlight daily, this is especially imperative if females have given birth and have young – failure to provide sunlight to babies will result in those babies having calcium absorption deficiencies and develop bone problems (often resulting in fragile bones and an inability to fly).

 Reduce the number of Flying-foxes that can be housed in a 3x3x18m to no more than 40 – there should be ample room for more than one animal to fly at any one time.  Landing pads (eg sheets) should be hung at both short ends of the flight cage to allow Flying-foxes a soft landing and not have to land on netting.  There should also be a few material hanging/hiding options scattered throughout cage (sarongs, long sleeved shirts).  All material hangers and landing pads must be changed and cleaned regularly. 

 All spilt and spat food needs to be picked up daily (by hand).  The floor can be natural but must be raked twice weekly, removing all fruit and leaves.  I think that hosing a concrete floor would be more stressful and cause disturbance that quietly raking (from experience). 

Routine Sample/Date Collection

 Biopsy punch must be away from and not compromise any veins (pge 87).

 Health Issues, Disease Control and Zoonoses

 Hendra CANNOT be acquired from Flying-foxes – remove this as it is superfluous unless the researcher is dealing with both species specifically and therefore conducting research into Hendra (pge 87).  Current research has not established that Flying-foxes are the source of Hendra infection of horses.

 All research animals to be appropriately released once project completed. 

Microbats

MICROBATS

Captive Husbandry 

Animals should be able to exhibit natural behaviours, the provision of appropriate (safe) environmental enrichment will facilitate this.  Cave dwelling cats will have different needs to those who use tree hollows or roost under bark.  Different species have different flight requirements and these should be met, along with the opportunity to glean (as appropriate to the species).

Frequency of feeding (pge 92) needs to take into account the location that the bats are located ie Top End of Australia, as not all micros will enter proper torpor.

Capture, Handling, Marking for Identification, Transport

 Micorbats have been killed by ants when left overnight in harp traps so traps need to be checked/monitored and not left for long periods.  Mist traps are not preferred due to possibility of damage – especially if bats are being removed by a novice ‘handler’.

 It is not recommended to place a bag or net over the exit of a roost to catch microbats (pge 91).

  Health Issues, Disease Control and Zoonoses

 Sick or injured microbats (pge 93) caught during trapping should be passed to an experienced Veterinarian or appropriate Wildlife Carer.

 Reference to Hendra virus (pge 87) in the microbat section should be removed as it is not relevant.  Reference to lyssavirus in this section should be written specifically in relation to microbats – remove reference to Flying-foxes.  This comment also applies to further reference to Flying-foxes (pge 88) in relation to parasites and breeding times.

 All research animals to be appropriately released once project completed. 

Brushtail possums and cuscuses

(Northern) Brushtail Possums

 Specific Details for Capture, Handling, Marking for Identification, Transport

 Traps (pge 66) must have Coopex (or similar) applied near trap to prevent ant problems.

 Captive Husbandry

 Increase the size of enclosure to allow the inclusion of tree trunks (and other structures) for climbing.  Environmental enrichment should be included in all enclosure design.  Natural substrate should be provided with ground cover as Northern Brushtails will browse groundcover.  Water to be provided at all times.

 Animals should be able to exhibit natural behaviours, the provision of appropriate (safe) environmental enrichment will facilitate this (eg tree trunks for climbing).

All research animals should be appropriately released post -project.

Bandicoots and bilbies

Bandicoots (Isoodon)

Captive Husbandry 

Animals should be able to exhibit natural behaviours, the provision of appropriate (safe) environmental enrichment will facilitate this.

 Specific Details for Capture, Handling, Marking for Identification, Transport

Traps (pge 30) must have Coopex (or similar) applied near trap to prevent ant problems.

 Females carrying pouch-young not to be caught unless ESSENTIAL to the project.

 Health Issues, Disease Control and Zoonoses

 Last para regarding animals kept in small cages (pge 33) – Animals should not be housed in conditions that cause obesity or nail problems.  They should be housed on earth substrate with enough room to dig and exhibit normal behaviours.

All research animals to be appropriately released post-project.

F. General comments
Comments: 

Thank you for the opportunity to make comment.

Page reviewed: 29 April, 2014