Sydney flying foxes live in a number of colonies throughout the Greater Sydney Basin. At times and in some streets the guano (bat droppings) paints whole streets white. There are currently three species of Sydney flying foxes: The grey headed, black and little red flying fox. Although numbers change, their are about 17 active colonies currently in Sydney.
We will see them high in the trees, normally in great numbers. Some will be sleeping with their wings covering their faces. Some will be in the air. Others will be moving around. They are in greatest numbers between February and May.
These cute little animals with fox like faces are also known as fruit bats. This is due to their penchant for fruit. They normally roost high in the trees. Here, they live with hundreds of their family and friends. In their seemingly party atmosphere they make a great deal of noise and get happy on the diet of (sometimes fermented) fruit. It is a spectacle to see. during the day, they often cover their heads with their wings as though they were pulling the bed cover over their head after a heavy hangover.
The flying fox is the largest flying mammal. It can fly at speeds of about 20km/h and 60km/h when using a tail wind. They bear their pups (babies) whilst upside down and only have one at a time. Whilst they chew fruits, rather than eat nectar, they suck it.
The Sydney flying fox is an important pollinator of the Eucalyptus forests in and around the city. Whist they love fruit, their main food source is provided by nectar from Eucalyptus flowers. Eucalyptus trees need pollen from other trees of their species (out-crossing) to produce fertile seed, and the flying fox provides this service.
Recently, in 2019 heatwaves that saw temperatures reach around 47°C. This saw a lot of them fall from trees to their deaths from heat exhaustion and thinned their numbers a little. In 2011, the colony of fruit bats that called the city’s Botanic Gardens home was dispatched and moved on to protect the heritage listed trees.
Whilst bats are often associated with black magic, vampires and horror movies, this is normally far from reality. However their is a dark side to these cuddly looking animals. They are noisy, smelly, messy creatures whose bite or scratch could have you kissing death. This is because they carry a nasty virus(Lyssavirus) similar to rabies so its best to avoid touching them. To our knowledge, only one person has ever died of it. Fortunately, they will normally not come close to humans.
Please wear enclosed (preferably old) shoes as it can get marshy at times. Bring good photographic equipment as the fruit bats can be high in the trees.
Come on our sydney tour to see these fruit bats.