fruit bats hang upside down like blacked fruit

Going batty over flying-foxes

According to the Australian Museum, Australia is home to over 90 species of bat with almost a third found in Queensland. The species with which I am most familiar are the black flying-foxes, grey-headed flying-foxes and little red flying-foxes which have taken up residence in trees about a kilometre from my home. The diet of many of the species earned them the name “fruit bat”.

black flying foxes, grey-headed flying foxes, little red flying foxes

While the bats rarely pose a health risk to humans, they can send neighbours a little batty with their noisy, smelly and messy behaviour. And it’s not only their neighbours who are affected. The bats can fly up to 50 kilometres a night in search of food. They frequent our fig tree, interrupting our evenings with their incessant screeching and squawking and leaving their sticky calling cards for Hub to remove in the morning.

However, as all flying foxes enjoy the full protection of the law, it can be near impossible to move them away from peopled areas. It may even be that bats are attracted to these areas because of the planting we do. If we offer them a backyard filled with their favourite food, why wouldn’t they wish to visit?

The reason I’m going a little batty this week is in response to the Carrot Ranch flash fiction prompt in which Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bat. You can use an association to the winged, cave-dwelling critter, or you can explore the word for other meanings. Bonus points for including a bat cave. Go where the prompt leads.

Though I love our nocturnal visitors and am constantly in awe of the numbers roosting in full sun through the heat of our summers and am entranced by their almost-silent departure flight overhead as each day changes to night, others I know consider them more of a bother.

My response is more a BOTS (based on a true situation) description than fiction, so there’s not a bat cave in sight. I hope you like it.

flying foxes hanging in trees

Flight of the Fruit Bats

All day they hang upside-down like blackened fruit left too long in the hot sun. Only an occasional stretch shows them capable of independent movement. Passers-by sometimes stop to wonder and photograph. Other keen observers travel greater distances to marvel at the spectacle.

Locals grow to abide their noisy, smelly presence and accommodate their daily activities.

Every evening at dusk, the colony flaps and stretches, then rises in unison like a cloud of dust shaken into the darkening sky. High above, their silent wings carry them away for night-time foraging. Others screech and squawk their joy in closer feasts.

Thank you blog post

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50 thoughts on “Going batty over flying-foxes

  1. Jules

    With only a small suburban back yard hubby doesn’t want to have a compost heap just for that reason… we already have some rodent and or rabbits living under our shed. They keep moving the bricks I use to block their entrance. Though the back isn’t really blocked. I guess they like having a front and back door?

    Well we did have some spring today, but I don’t thing the frost warning for tonight will entice any bats out from the under hang of the creek where they might be residing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Compost heaps are great for attracting rodents. I think your rabbits are cute needing a front door and a back door. It reminds me of Peter Rabbit which I took the grandchildren to see during the week. It’s a fun movie.
      I hope spring stays with you for a while.

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  2. Hugh's Views and News

    Those bats do look like dried up fruit from a distance, Norah. The way they hang with their wings wrapped around themselves reminds me a little of Count Dracula. I think I’d rather have the fruit-eating ones than the blood-sucking ones living in the neighbourhood.
    Just across the road from our home is a bat house. It was built about 10 years ago to protect local species of bats as houses were built. It’s protected by a fence and lots of vegetation. I have seen a few bats flying about in the evening and always thank them for keeping most of the biting insects away. They do an excellent job.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      They do look a bit like Count Dracula, or he like them, perhaps. They are very cute. Or at least from my distance.
      That’s an interesting tale about the bat house across the road from you. I wonder how many species of bat make their home there. Is it dark and cave-like? Do the bats not bother you? It is a good thing they keep the biting insects away. I assume they do no biting themselves.

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      1. Hugh's Views and News

        From the outside, it looks like a large garage, Norah. It was built to blend in with the rest of the houses on the land it sits. No windows, no doors. I’m not sure how the bats get in and out, and I don’t think I’ll be trying to find out. I can see the structure from the window of my study. From what I’ve found out, since leaving you my last comment, is that the most common species of bat in the area is the Common Pipistrelle.
        Pipistrelles are the commonest British bats, weighing around 5 grams. A single pipistrelle can eat 3,000 tiny insects in just one night! (that suits me). 😀

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        1. Norah Post author

          Hi Hugh. Thanks for filling me in with a little more information about your bats. It’s fascinating. Wow, those Pipistrelles are tiny at just 5 grams. They probably don’t need doors or windows, any small crack will do. 🙂 Three thousand insects sounds quite a feast too. Good thing they’re not feasting on you. 🙂

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  3. Charli Mills

    How wondrous are your flying foxes, Norah! I had no idea they were so close to you, somehow picturing them out in the wilds. But they seem to like your taste in fruit! Your flash offers two beautiful snapshots, one in repose and the other taking off in colonial flight. Beautiful writing!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Charli. I’m so pleased you enjoyed my description of the flying foxes. It is amazing to have such a large colony here, but I am probably lucky that I live just far enough way to appreciate them but not be bothered by them. They do like the fruit of the fig tree, but they are not figs that we eat. They are welcome to them.

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        1. Norah Post author

          It does. But Hub is taking the tree out very soon. He doesn’t want to clean up their mess next season. I wonder what else they’ll enjoy. 🙂

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  4. robbiecheadle

    A most interesting post about bats, Norah. I have not seen fruit bats and didn’t actually realize they roosted in trees during the day. The only bats I have seen have been in caves and one that died in our chimney a few years ago. Poor little thing was completely dried out like a prune when I found it.

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  5. Annecdotist

    Having only ever encountered fruit bats as a tourist, who I hadn’t thought they might be the neighbourhood pest. Thanks for enlightening me in your post and flash. I hope they leave you some figs.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      They’re not edible (to us) figs so the bats are welcome to them as far as I’m concerned. I may not think so if cleaning up their mess was left to me. 🙂 I’m pleased you enjoyed the post.

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  6. TanGental

    From this distance you appear to be beyond lucky to have so many of these gorgeously talented little mammals nearby. Well done Australia for protecting them. As for noise and mess, well I wonder how they view their human neighbours?
    But all of that is easy to say from here, from a man whose exposure to bats is limited to the time my brother briefly kept one in his bedroom and not so easy to deal with on a daily basis, is it? Lovely flash Norah and it perfectly exposes a tension between species on this crowded little planet of ours.

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    1. Norah Post author

      These creatures are adorable. I think I’m both close enough and far away enough to appreciate them without being too bothered by them. I agree with your sentiment about humans messing up and encroaching on their environment, too. We need to share our planet as best we can.
      Keeping a bat in a bedroom! I wonder what you have chosen to write this time. I look forward to reading it.
      I’m pleased the tension came through a little. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. lesleyconnor

    Great post. We had such a huge problem with them on the South Coast about 12 months ago that parks and wildlife and the Shire Council had to take steps to relocate them as they were starting to pose a health risk

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Lesley. What method was used to relocate the bats?Were they moved far away? Sometimes relocation simply moves the problem from one backyard to another.

      Liked by 1 person

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  8. Miriam Hurdle

    Oh wow, Norah! I don’t know what to say. I’m not too thrilled about bats. I don’t know why. Probably it’s just the association with dark caves, and upside down hanging position that makes me feel a little bit uneasy. You may be used to them, or have no choice. Yes, welcome to nature! Very informative post. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased you enjoyed the post, Miriam. I think bats are one of those creatures that have received bad press over the years. Vampire stories probably haven’t helped. There are some very cute bats and they play a very important role in the environment. We can’t do without them for pollination and seed dispersion.

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