Flying foxes are fascinating creatures. While most of us are slumbering, they are working the night shift, busily pollinating the native trees and shrubs upon which countless other plant and animal species depend.
To celebrate the successful launch of a new atmospheric cooling system for Bendigo’s flying fox population, we’ve put together 10 fun facts about flying foxes.
1. In a single night of foraging, these industrious animals can cover up to 30 kilometres. Dipping their heads into flowering plants, they use their long tongues to extract pollen and nectar. The pollen that inadvertently collects on their fur is then transferred to the next flowers they visit.
2. Roosting colonies of flying foxes, known as camps, may contain several thousand individuals. Some camps have been in use for hundreds of years by many generations of flying foxes.
3. The grey-headed flying fox is one of the smallest of our flying foxes, weighing in at just 300 grams. Being light and maneuverable is handy given the vast distances it migrates - up to 1,000 km a year up and down Australia's east coast in search of food.
4. A young grey-headed flying fox remains with its mother for the first four weeks of life, using specially curved milk teeth to attach to Mum's teat (located under its wing). As her pup gets older, she leaves it behind at night in special creches at the camp, before the pup is weaned at about six months of age and ready to take its first test flights.
5. The grey-headed flying fox is vulnerable to extinction, but many other threatened animals and plants also rely on its survival. Scientists believe that by protecting the grey-headed flying fox we can also help to protect six threatened plant species and populations, 57 threatened vegetation communities, and 26 threatened bird and 19 threatened mammal species.
6. Designed to spend half their life upside down bats have a tendon in their legs with a ratchet-like locking mechanism. This means they don’t have to expend energy and they can just hang there. For them taking flight is as simple as unlocking and dropping.
7. Grey-headed flying foxes have over 30 different calls all related to specific behaviours whether that be for mating, for locating its
8. flying foxes have been seen skimming rivers, creeks or lakes to get their bellies wet, then lick the water off their fur during hot days to cool down.young, defending its territory or squabbling over food.
9. Keen to spot a grey-headed flying fox? They’re the only flying fox species with a collar of orange/brown fur that fully encircles the head. They are also the only species with fur right down their legs to the toes.
10. Curiously, flying foxes are quite good swimmers. However, because they can’t take flight from flat ground, they first need to swim to a bank then crawl up a tree in order to gain height and spread their wings to fly again.