This rare white flying fox is the cutest thing you’ll see all week

By Bec Crew | September 18, 2017

Meet Tal’ngay Dha’run— an incredibly rare leucistic bat.


Bec Crew

Becky Crew is a Sydney-based science communicator with a love for weird and wonderful animals. From strange behaviours and special adaptations to newly discovered species and the researchers who find them, her topics celebrate how alien yet relatable so many of the creatures that live amongst us can be.

WE NEED TO talk about a special boy called Tal’ngay Dha’run – the cutest little sky puppy flying fox in the world right now.

Rescued late last year in the small town of Canungra on the Gold Coast, Tal’ngay was suffering from severe sunburn when staff from the Australian Bat Clinic noticed him on the ground.

After mistaking him for a piece of discarded paper, they realised that what they actually had on their hands was an incredibly rare leucistic bat.

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(Image Credit: Australian Bat Clinic & Wildlife Trauma Centre)

Leucism is a pigment disorder that’s similar to albinism in that it causes a loss of pigmentation, resulting in beautifully pale individuals like Omo, the leucistic giraffe , and this wonderful Texas rat snake.

But unlike albinism, which blocks the body from producing any melanin – the pigment that gives our hair, skin, and eyes their colour –  leucism is just a partial loss of pigment.

That means leucistic animals retain some of their regular colour, like this ridiculously handsome peacock, and the white lion below, which still has pigment in his eyes and lips:

white lion

(Image Credit: Stano Novak)

When it comes to our little bat friend, his leucism has given him mostly white fur and translucent wings, except for the lovely big black splotches that give him a cow-print effect:

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(Image Credit: Dean Morgan Photography/Australian Bat Clinic & Wildlife Trauma Centre)

And check out his adorable mismatched ears:

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(Image Credit: Australian Bat Clinic & Wildlife Trauma Centre)

Tal’ngay is a grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), the largest species of bat in Australia, which usually sports dark grey fur, pitch black wings, and a bright red neck collar.

Because Tal’ngay isn’t protected by the dark colours of his peers, he’d either be picked off by predators or sunburnt to death in the wild, so the Australian Bat Clinic decided to keep him as a permanent resident.

Once they were confident that he would survive his sunburns, the staff crowd-sourced his name, and chose Tal’ngay Dha’run in recognition of the indigenous Yugambeh Tribe of the local area:

“There are two words – ‘Tal’ngai’, which means ‘white’, and ‘Dha’run’, which means ‘Wing’.  It is pronounced Talingi Darrun with the emphasis on the T, and the ING and the I in the first name, and the D in the second name.”

Because we can’t get enough of little Tal’ngay, here he is again:

white bat

(Image Credit: Australian Bat Clinic & Wildlife Trauma Centre)

And here he is making sweet little noises while he gets a scratch behind the ears: