Why we're batty for flying foxes
Some of our keepers have recently become new mums, but not in the way you might expect. While their babies are adorable, wake up throughout the night, and suck on dummies, they also happen to have wings. That’s because these babies are orphaned flying foxes.
Flying foxes are remarkable animals with complex social lives. The bond between mother and young, also known as a “pup”, is extremely strong. Flying fox mums who have lost their pups to predators have been known to call for their young and search the area for up to a week. Young pups cling to their mum’s chest whilst nursing for 4-5 weeks until they become too heavy to carry. At this point the mum will leave the pup overnight in a community managed creche. In the bat world, it really does take a village to raise a child.
Our keepers will be looking after their adopted fur-babies until they are around three months old. During this time, they will provide all of the care that a mother bat would give, including bottle feedings, bathing, and practicing natural behaviors such as hanging upside-down and wing flapping. They also look after the emotional needs of these intelligent animals by providing affection and mental stimulation. Once old enough, the bats will be returned to the care of the bat conservation group to begin preparation for reintroduction to the wild.
The importance of bats
Flying foxes play a crucial role in keeping our forests healthy as pollinators and seed dispersers. As they fly between flowering trees in search of nectar, pollen sticks to their furry bodies like giant bumble bees. Did you know that some species of gum trees rely solely on flying foxes for pollination? They also distribute seeds in their faeces and by dropping bits of fruit. They’re like furry flying gardeners.
Unfortunately, flying foxes are facing a number of threats. Electrical lines, barbed wire fencing, and fruit tree netting can all present perilous dangers for a flying fox. Misunderstanding and stigma have also led to the persecution of bats in many areas. In addition, finding a nightly feed is becoming harder as flying fox habitat becomes increasingly fragmented by urban development.
How you can help
- Plant native flowering trees to create a wildlife corridor for bats and other wildlife.
- If using netting to protect fruit trees, research bat-friendly options to prevent bats becoming entangled.
- If you see an injured or orphaned bat call the Bat Conservation & Rescue QLD hotline on 0488 288 134 or call 1 300 ANIMAL to be put in touch with a carer in your area.
- Do not attempt to touch or pick up a flying fox, observe from a distance.
Lastly, sometimes all it takes to appreciate an animal is to spend some time observing it. Stop in and watch the bats at Lone Pine as they socialize throughout the day. New Farm Park is also a great place to observe bats (from a safe distance) in the wild. Pack a picnic and spend some time getting to know our amazing flying neighbours.