Fruit bats invade Botanic Gardens

Colac Otway Shire Council’s head gardener Laurence Towers is keeping a close eye on bats that have taken up residence in Colac Botanic Gardens.

More than 200 fruit bats have invaded Colac Botanic Gardens leaving gardeners concerned about the impact on historic trees if the unwelcome visitors take up permanent residency.

The unprecedented arrival of the bats, formally known as grey-headed flying foxes, has worried Colac Otway Shire Council’s head gardener Laurence Towers and Friends of the Gardens’ Helen Paatsch.

Colonies of mega bats have caused problems for managers of the Melbourne and Geelong botanic gardens for years, and are known to breed in Melbourne and Bendigo gardens.

But Mr Towers and Mrs Paatsch, who has written a history of the 101-year-old botanic gardens, say they have never seen the flying foxes, which are protected native animals, in the Colac gardens before.

“About 50 arrived last week and now there are over 200,” Mr Towers said.

“I’m a bit concerned because they’ve been perching in the pin oaks during the day and I’ve been noticing a lot of branches underneath.

“They’re not eating the leaves, they must just like perching in fairly high trees but I’m worried the trees won’t cope and will start to deteriorate.

“I hope they’re not going to stay, because they might start breeding and they’ll leave their young perched in the trees,” he said.

“I have noticed the mower disturbs them during the day so I hope they decide they’re not getting any sleep and move on.”

For the full story see today’s Colac Herald.

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4 Responses to “Fruit bats invade Botanic Gardens”

  1. Lawrence

    Thank you Colac Gardens for allowing the bats to get their heads down and have rest after a hard night on the nectar. Pteropus Poliocephalus – aka Grey headed flying fox is a resident of Australia’s east and south coasts, on and off, for around 2 million years. They pollinate 100 species of native trees and are good news for the timber and honey industries. Favorite food is nectar from flowers, pollen and fruit. Sadly we have lost 98% of this species since 1900 and many still die in dangerous backyard fruit tree netting. Sharing backyard fruit with them is a big help in keeping the species going but you decide to net then use only wildlife safe netting available in major hardware stores – it has small holes your fingers can’t poke through. There are nomadic and follow food resources around the state so will probably move on (bit chilly in those parts) but if not then that’s also part of nature and part of Australia. Thanks again to Colac for living with wildlife and helping our upside down friends.

  2. Joker

    Easy fix, call the batman, I just need a spotlight and some cardboard…

  3. Una greco

    Why. Are they called unwelcome? They are a fascinating important part of our ecosystem. Use this opportunity to educate your resident/children of the diversity of our Australian wildlife.

    • Lawrence

      Well said Una greco!
      Education is the key…watching David Attenborough (who incidentally is interested in the conservation of flying foxes) documentaries should parlay into actual species conservation action in our own backyards and community. The bats are a great chance to study and relect on how species are adapting to man-made pressures and how we might be able to help them survive. Some say this species may be functionally extinct by 2050…this would be a very sad thing to happen on our watch.