Dead flying foxes have been falling from the sky in droves because of the heatwave sweeping southeast Queensland.
Hundreds of thousands of the large bats may have died as temperatures soared to 43C at the weekend, Bat Conservation and Rescue Queensland (BCRQ) says.
In Ipswich, southwest of Brisbane, more than a thousand dead flying foxes had to be cleared from a single park on Saturday.
The council has been issuing gloves and wheelie bins to residents and started daily rubbish collections to take the carcasses away before they start to stink.
“Even today we have situations all over Ipswich … they are just falling out of the sky onto residential properties,” Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale said.
“People are concerned about their water tanks and their roofs.”
Mr Pisasale praised the community response to the clean-up effort in a city where the presence of the bats often divides people.
BCRQ says colonies from Gympie, north of the Sunshine Coast, down to Yamanto southwest of Brisbane, have been devastated.
Grey-headed and black flying foxes have been affected and BCRQ has more than 200 young in care after trained volunteers rescued them.
It expects the death toll to increase in coming days as baby flying foxes whose mothers died at the weekend succumb to dehydration.
Storms on Monday night are expected to bring some relief from the heat in southeast Queensland.
“We have never seen this type of heat event devastation before and the massive amount of casualties as a result,” says BCRQ president Louise Saunders.
“From the initial call onwards, the (bat) camps fell like dominoes.”
People should avoid trying to help living bats themselves as they can bite and scratch and some carry Australian bat lyssavirus.
People can call a 24-hour hotline on 0488 228134 or 1300 ANIMAL.