Hundreds of wild bats have dropped dead in India falling out of their roosts and dying on the ground – as shown in harrowing footage.
The poor animals have been collapsing in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh where villagers have been anxiously documenting the phenomenon.
In a distressing video, shared on May 26, one of the furry mammals lies helplessly on the dirt while trying in vain to crawl.
The little animal writhes its legs on the ground and opens its mouth but is too weakened to move from the spot.
With more than 134,000 views on Twitter, the video has sparked a debate among Indians about what is to blame with many mentioning the heatwave.
One person tweeted: “When bats exposed to excessive heat especially in the peak summertime they die.
“I have seen this before.”
Another viewer asked: “Anything to do with heatwave?”
“Seems excessive rise in temperature,” said another.
Animal lovers said the bat looked like it was “in pain” and wished they hadn’t watched the video.
Officials said a dramatic rise in temperatures, which saw the mercury soar to 43C this week, is likely to behind the hundreds of deaths but they will carry out tests to be sure.
District Forest Officer Shraddha Yadav said: “We will collect samples of dead bats and sent them for testing to ascertain the reason behind their death.
“Our field staff has found 10-20 carcasses of bats”.
Later, The Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) said it believed the bats had died from ruptured blood vessels in their heads.
“It appears the mass mortality of bats has caused due to brain haemorrhage, caused by excessive heat,” IVRI Director R K Singh told Xinhua.
“The samples have been found Covid-19 negative and further investigation is underway.”
Bats are an important part of the ecosystem with most species of the nocturnal mammals feeding on insects that are active at night such as mosquitoes.
When bats started dying in Israel last month, some conspiracy theorists said it was a sign of the end of the world.