Flying Fox Community News February 2019
  • Last updated:
  • 05 Feb 2019

Article and image by Tyron de Kauwe, Natural Areas Conservation Officer, Sunshine Coast Council

General flying fox roost updates

Happy New Year to all and welcome back for more Flying Fox Community News.

The flying foxes have again been quite active over the summer, with their young done with creching and now enjoying their independence. Crèching is like day care for flying foxes, where young that no longer require full-time attention from their mothers are all left together in a group, while the mothers take shifts foraging. Mothers will come back to feed their young from time to time while the young learn important socialising skills. Crèching is beneficial as it allows for supervision of many young around the clock and is seen in other highly social, colony-structured species, such as emperor penguins.

February will see males establishing territory before mating season occurs over March and April.

Mating season occurs over four weeks during these months and is the noisiest time of year in flying fox roosts, with males looking for potential mates throughout the day and night. Unfortunately for many nearby residents, this can be severely disruptive to sleep and little reprieve is experienced. Recent acoustic studies have shown that house insulation and double glazing windows significantly reduces the noise levels experienced in homes, and it is strongly recommended that these modifications be made to assist in dealing with the noise at this time of year.

New webpage

The flying fox webpage has been updated to provide you with the most up-to-date information, easier than ever before. For more flying fox information, including the current extent at each roost site, feel free to check it out.

Heat stress events

Flying foxes experience heat stress when temperatures reach above 380C and mortalities generally occur when it exceeds 420C. Unfortunately, this summer has produced several days of extreme heat that has led to mass mortalities in several locations across the country. Understandably, these events can have substantial impacts on the overall population, with many flying foxes traveling tens of thousands of kilometres each year between various sites.

Luckily Sunshine Coast did not experience any of these events, however, some other locations in Queensland were not so fortunate. In late November, Cairns suffered with over 23,000 spectacled flying foxes dying from a two-day heatwave. This is almost one-third of the overall population of this species, estimated to have been 75,000 individuals.

Orphan update

Unsurprisingly, during the rearing season many young become orphaned due to the stresses of lack of food sources, extreme weather and predation put upon their mothers. This coupled with human factors such as barbed wire entanglements, electrocution and vehicle strikes results in an overwhelming number of young ending up being hand reared by wildlife carers. This time of year is therefore given the undesirable title of “trauma season” amongst wildlife rehabilitation circles.

This season was no less traumatic than previous years, with carers from Bat Rescue Inc. rearing over a dozen orphaned Sunshine Coast flying foxes each for several months over this stressful period.

If you do come across an injured or deceased Flying fox please DO NOT handle it. Call the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) so that a trained and vaccinated rescuer can come and take care of it.

For more information on the struggles facing our native flying foxes, please see this article from Animals Australia.

Bats in Backyards - pilot project

Council will be performing a citizen science pilot project looking at the foraging of flying foxes around the Landsborough roost. This project invites members of the public to document where and what plant species flying foxes are foraging on to increase knowledge around the flying fox’s preferred species in this area and how far they are travelling for food during the energy-expensive mating season. If you would like to be involved in the project and are within 20km of the roost, please contact wildlife@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au for more information.

Backyard Buddies - library talks

The wonderful Geckoes Wildlife will be displaying many amazing nocturnal natives, including flying foxes, at six council libraries across the Sunshine Coast. Each of these events are FREE and bookings are essential to secure a spot. Book online.

Library Day Date Time Room
Beerwah Saturday 9 March  10 - 11.30am  Meeting Room
Caloundra Saturday 16 March 10 - 11.30am Events Room
Coolum Tuesday 19 March 5 - 6.30pm  Events Room
Nambour Saturday 23 March 10 - 11.30am Upstairs
Maroochydore Tuesday 2 April 5 - 6.30pm Events space
Kawana Saturday 6 April 10 - 11.30am Meeting Room

5th Annual Australasian Bat Night at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

Once again, that time of year has snuck up on us and the 5th instalment of Australasian Bat Night will be held at the picturesque Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve. This event is always a highlight of the flying fox events calendar and this year will be bigger than ever! Planning is still underway for the event and is likely to be held at the end of April, so stay tuned.

Bats in focus

This edition we are again staying close to home, with the strikingly quirky eastern tube-nosed bat (Nyctimene robinsoni).

The yellow spots on their face and wings help them camouflage in the foliage of the rainforests in which they sleep during the day. Like other fruit bats, they play a very important role in long distance rainforest pollination and seed dispersal. Although they are somewhat common in QLD, the species is listed as vulnerable to extinction in NSW.

The most remarkable thing about this species is as obvious as the nose on their face - their unique nostrils! As their name suggests, they have long, tubular nostrils which can be moved independently of one another. There are a few theories as to why they have developed these nostrils. Some scientists claim that they are used like a snorkel to help them breath while they feed on juicy fruit and manoeuvre them to avoid inhaling sticky juice. The main theory is that they use them to triangulate the source of a smell and sniff out ripe fruit.