Australia’s fruit bats (aka flying foxes) are doing it tough. Some species have declined by 95% in the last century — with further decline predicted. These sensitive animals are particularly susceptible to heat, and unforgiving Aussie summers have led to mass-deaths of fruit bats.

Here are five great reasons why we should care:

1 Without them, entire ecosystems will collapse: They help regenerate our forests and keep ecosystems healthy through pollination and seed dispersal. Many other species of plants and animals rely upon them for their survival and well-being.

2 They’re like little dogs … but with wings: Wildlife carers who spend countless hours with these little creatures describe them as highly affectionate, intelligent, full of personality and playful.

3 They’re facing cruelty and suffering at every turn: Every day presents another challenge –  weather extremes predicted to get worse, land clearing, shooting, and backyard fruit tree netting; there is untold suffering and death in many parts of Australia.

4 They could be on their way to extinction: There are four mainland species of flying fox: Black, Grey headed, Spectacled and Little Red. Tragically, populations of flying foxes across Queensland, NSW and Victoria are in decline. Both the Grey-headed flying fox and Spectacled flying fox have declined by at least 95% in the past century, with massive losses in the past 30 years.

5 They are precious native animals who need us — and we’re letting them down: Like many native animals, flying foxes’ greatest threat is habitat loss. Over time, their colonies are being surrounded by human development, with locals complaining of the noise and smell, and netting their trees.

You don’t need a cape or mask to be a superhero to bats (but if that’s your thing, go for it). Here are two simple things you can do to protect these unique native animals from cruelty — and help them get back to looking after our precious ecosystems:

Spread the word. Help inform your friends and family, and encourage understanding and tolerance of these unique native animals.

Consider sharing your backyard fruit with wildlife and avoid using fruit tree netting in your garden. If you must use netting get some that’s safer for native animals – available at all good nurseries as well as at Bunnings.

NEVER handle flying foxes yourself — ALWAYS call your local wildlife carer if you spot a flying fox in distress and follow their advice. Rescues: 0408 966 228