5 min read

Rarest Orphan At Bat Clinic Has No Idea He's Any Different

His little feet were sunburnt when he was rescued.

Tal'ngai Dha'run might seem like a big name for such a little creature - but it has a special meaning for the rare white bat who recently came into the Australian Bat Clinic & Wildlife Trauma Center on Australia's Gold Coast.

The name means "white wing" in the native Yugambeh language spoken in the area where the little guy was found.

Tal'ngai is actually a grey-headed flying fox - a type of bat - with a special condition.

"Tal'ngai is what we call leucistic: His eyes are a beautiful brown and he has one white ear and one black ear. If you look close, you will see he also has a little black penis," Trish Wimberley, director of the clinic, told The Dodo. "He is so photogenic ... you might notice on the inside of his right wing there is the shape of a heart."

Wildlife rescue organizations in Australia are currently being overrun with orphaned and injured bats because of a mass starvation event caused by habitat loss and irregular weather patterns.

Tal'ngai was found by some rescuers who were out on a night mission to rescue regular flying fox babies. The babies have become so weak with hunger, they've been literally falling out of trees.

"[Rescuers] were walking back to the vehicle shining their torch ... and noticed what they thought was a piece of paper they had left behind when, all of a sudden, it moved," Wimberley said. "He would have been eaten by predators if he had stayed on the ground."

When rescuers examined the paper-white bat back at the clinic, they saw how unusual his markings were, and discovered sunburn on his little feet and legs where they hadn't been covered by his mom.

"Mum had done a wonderful job of rearing him to this stage," Wimberley said. "It was hoped that we could release him back to the wild in February next year with the orphan release ... but sadly those little feet and legs being sunburnt at this age was not a good prognosis for a release back to the wild. As of now, he will stay with us for his rehab, but his future will be determined next year."

Tal'ngai is now being rehabilitated with other grey-headed flying foxes.

He hangs around with them as if he weren't any different.

He also loves snuggling with his little yellow teddy bear.

Whatever the future holds for this rare little bat, it looks like he's certainly in good hands.

To help raise little Tal'ngai - and all the other baby bats - you can make a donation to the Australian Bat Clinic & Wildlife Trauma Center here.