FOURTEEN fruit bats died on Saturday and two are in care after the week-long heatwave proved too much for the species invading the Albury Botanic Gardens.
The grey-headed flying foxes were dropping out of trees as temperatures soared above 40 degrees for the fifth day.
Wildlife rescue group WIRES had volunteers spraying trees housing the bats with water from garden hoses, but secretary Hazel Cook expected some casualties.
“The heat stresses them out, and while we did all we could, it was just too hot for them,” she said.
“We lost 14 flying foxes and two are in care.”
Mrs Cook said they were all pups that died.
“They just weren’t ready to come off mum yet,” she said.
“The mums are still up there and are not coping.”
About 450 of the bats, who are listed as vulnerable species, have been taking refuge in the gardens since October.
Wildlife volunteers feared for their welfare after thousands of bats throughout southern Queensland died earlier this month as a result of high temperatures.
“We have been trying to give them some cool relief, the problem is that by the time some of them are coming down the tree, they are too far gone,” Mrs Cook said.
“We can’t reach some of them and they are just falling out of the trees.
“It has been rewarding because there could have potentially been hundreds of deaths if we didn’t help out.”
Mrs Cook said there could even be more deaths.
“They go out at night and come back to the gardens, so some may not have made it back,” she said.
“Council picked up two that got as far as the Albury Swim Centre.”
Volunteers are caring for two pups, which will be bottle-fed and nursed back to health before being released.
“The thing is that it’s more important to the mums to hang around and breed than look after their baby,” Mrs Cook said.
“So rather than kill themselves and baby, it’s better to leave the baby and keep going.”