We're feeling batty at Centennial Parklands, because it's International Bat Appreciation Day! To celebrate these fascinating creatures here are seven reasons to love Flying Foxes.
1. Flying Foxes are unique
Let's start with what a Flying Fox is, exactly. Flying Foxes are large bats, weighing up to one kg, with a wing span which may exceed one metre. They sleep during the day and feed on pollen, nectar and fruit at night.
The Grey-headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) is a species that is native to Australia and Centennial Park is home to the largest Grey-headed Flying Fox colony in Sydney.
2. They are super pollinators
Bats in Australia are important pollinators and seed dispersers of native trees. Feeding by bats on flowers can help transfer pollen between different trees, which means the plants can make seeds and reproduce. Bat are an important long-distance pollinator species, and contribute to the health of our native forests across the East Coast of Australia.
Seeds are also discarded through faeces or fall when fruit is being eaten. These seeds germinate when conditions are suitable and ensure that dispersal occurs in a wide area.
3. & 4. Flying - it's in their name!
3. Bats are the world’s only flying mammals - they give birth to live young (upside down!), and feed them milk until they are weaned.
4. Grey-headed Flying Foxes have been tracked flying over 300 km a night! They’re nomadic and follow their great noses to their next meal of nectar or fruit.
5. They suck (just not blood)
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!
6. They teach us about bats - large and micro
The Grey-headed Flying Fox may be Australia’s largest bat, but Centennial Park is home to six species of bat, including some of the smallest bats around. 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!
7. You can see them in the middle of Sydney
It's pretty special to be able to drive just five minutes from Sydney's CBD and see an amazing colony of Flying Foxes and other nocturnal creatures at Centennial Parklands, the city's 'green lungs'. After roosting in the trees of the Lachlan Wetlands each day, the bats leave the Park to feed as evening falls. The iconic fly out is well known by Sydneysiders, and if you visit the park at this time you can also watch the spectacle of the bats skimming across our ponds as they take a drink.
To learn more about these amazing flying mammals and view them from the best spots in the Park as the sun falls, join our Outdoor Education Experts for a Spotlight Prowl, Camping 101, or special Bat Month events.
Get a bat's eye view of Lachlan Swamp