Centennial Park is home to the largest flying fox colony in Sydney and here are five reasons why you should join us for a tour to learn more about these fascinating creatures.

Firstly, let’s start with…

 

What exactly are flying foxes?

Flying foxes are large bats, weighing up to 1 kg, with a wing span which may exceed one metre. They sleep during the day and feed on pollen, nectar and fruit at night.

In the wild they are important pollinators and seed dispersers of native trees. Seeds are discarded in the faeces or fall where the fruit is being eaten. These seeds germinate when conditions are suitable and ensure that dispersal occurs in a wide area.

The grey-headed flying fox (the bat most commonly found in Centennial Park) is a native species that is native to Australia.

 

What’s so important about Centennial Park’s flying-foxes?

  1. An orphaned flying-fox being raised by carers - photo by Mandi Griffith

    An orphaned flying fox being raised by carers – photo by Mandi Griffith

    Bats are the world’s only flying mammals – they give birth to live young (upside down!), and feed them milk until they are weaned.

  2. Grey-headed flying foxes have been tracked flying over 300km a night! They’re nomadic and follow their great noses to their next meal of nectar or fruit.
  3. Flying foxes don’t actually eat fruit, they suck on it. Most of their diet is made up of nectar from flowers, so they’re adapted for a liquid diet. They do chew on fruits, but they only swallow the juice, spitting out the seeds, pulp, and skin. So when they’re not pollinating, they’re spreading seeds!
  4. The grey-headed flying fox may be Australia’s largest bat, but Centennial Park is home to some of the smallest bats too. At just fourteen grams, Gould’s wattled bat is one of the microbat species that call the park home. Very different from their fruit bat cousins, microbats eat insects and use sound to find their way around!
  5. Hundreds of baby flying foxes are orphaned in Sydney each year, having lost their mothers to power lines, owls, fruit tree netting, and many other hazards. There is a network of trained and licensed wildlife carers who volunteer to look after these babies until they are old enough to be released back into the wild (here’s one such organisation).

 

Not convinced? Watch this!

Wildlife ecologist Tim Pearson, well known to Centennial Park, gave this great TED Talk in 2013 on flying foxes – it’s well worth a watch:

 

 

Now join us to discover flying foxes first hand!

We run regular tours of the Centennial Park flying-fox colony, usually timed with the iconic evening fly-out.

The next tour is Family Bat Night on 18 April 2015.

Discover a night full of all things batty. Enjoy a light dinner, bat talks, face painting, special guests (of the furry variety) and a sunset walk to view the spectacular fly-out of the guests of honour. Find out more.

If you can’t make this one…

We also run Spotlight Prowls and Batwatchers’ Breakfasts throughout the year. To know when the next one is coming up, subscribe to our What’s On eNewsletter.

Thanks to Centennial Parklands Education Ranger Jalyn Neysmith for providing assistance with this blog post.

 

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