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.