Health and disease

Please note

Naracoorte Caves is open. There are restrictions on the number of people that can undertake tours at any one time. Some cave tours can now be booked online, or you can visit and enjoy a tour by booking directly at the Wonambi Visitor Centre.
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Observations of lesions on bats in 2009 prompted studies into the health of the population. While the lesions were attributed to a parasite, one case was found to be associated with pox virus – the first case in a bat. The reasons for the outbreak remain unclear but fortunately the lesions have only rarely been observed in the bats since the 2009 outbreak.

Another area of research into the health of the bats was promoted in 2000 when population counts revealed a significant decline from the 1960s: insecticides. Insecticide residues were found in both guano and bats from Bat and Starlight Caves. Interestingly, the different chemical concentrations in the two populations suggested that they feed in different locations and are not a co-mixing single population. Further work is required to understand how insecticide use may affect the bats as despite detection of the chemical residues in the bat guano and bat tissues, our understanding of how these affect bat populations and breeding success is unknown.

Further reading

Allinson, G., Mispagel, C., Kajiwara, N., Anan, Y., Hashimoto, J., Laurenson, L., Allinson, M. and Tanabe, S. 2006. Organochlorine and trace metal residues in adult Southern Bent-wing Bat (Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii) in southeastern Australia. Chemosphere 64, 1464–1471.

McLelland, D., Reardon, T., Bourne, S., Dickason, C., Kessell, A. and Boardman, W. 2013. Outbreak of skin nodules associated with Riouxgolvania beveridgei (Nematoda: Muspiceida) in the Southern Bentwing Bat (Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii), South Australia. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 48, 1009–1013.

Mispagel, C., Allinson, M., Allinson, G., Iseki, N., Grant, C. and Morita, M. 2004. DDT and metabolites residues in the Southern Bent-wing Bat (Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii) of south-eastern Australia. Chemosphere 55, 997–1003.