I enjoy watching bats fly over our house at night. One particular night, I was looking forward to teaching my eldest daughter what we can learn from watching a flying fox colony.
We went for a stroll to our local park to watch the bats and get some great photos… but by the time we arrived, every single one of them had left!
I was so disappointed.
That’s the thing about bats though – they’re classed as the ‘backpackers of the sky’. They move around depending on the season.
Thankfully the flying foxes returned two months later, and we were able to spend some quality time taking great photos and watching their behaviour.
Watching Flying Foxes with Kids
If you’re an animal enthusiast, or even just slightly interested in the comings and goings of night life, I strongly encourage you to visit a bat colony! You will learn so much just by taking some quiet time near their roosting site to sit and watch. It’s such a simple activity, yet there’s so much to learn and so much to see.
What to take:
- A mat to sit on
- A camera to document your experience
- A torch (for you when it gets dark)
We sat quietly and watched them near dusk. This is what we learnt:
Observing a flying fox colony:
What to notice while you’re observing the colony.
- They are social animals that live in a family unit
- Bat hang upside down
- They turn the right way up to pee and poo (Miss Possum loved this information. Why do kids like anything poo related?!)
- They sleep with their wings curled around them
- There are many different types of bats. Some live in caves and some live in trees
- Bats are nocturnal (they sleep during the day and are awake at night).
Bats live in a community and it’s interesting to observe their interactions. Watch closely and you might notice:
- Fighting between bats for better roosting sites
- A mother and a baby bat. The babies are usually tucked under the mother’s arms.
- A dominant bat and a more submissive bat
- The bats talking to one another – they can get really noisy right before they fly out for the night.
Flying Foxes and Safety
Remember never to touch bats. If bitten by an infected bat, humans can contract a disease called the Lyssavirus. If you find a sick or injured bat, put a box or washing basket over it and ring a wildlife rescue organisation, like Wildcare.
You may have heard about Hendra Virus, too. This doesn’t pose a threat to us directly from bats but you can learn more about it here.
Miss Possum fell in love with bats from an earlier bat activity. Although these are a different type of bat, watching them has strengthened her affection for them.
And although she may occasionally still call them wombats by accident, she knows much more about bats, how they live and where.
The act of observing wild animals is the simplest and perhaps one the most enjoyable ways to encourage a love of wildlife.
Do you like bats? What animals have you and your children watched lately?
I love the rich detail you provide in your posts. The next time we see bats, I won’t squeak or run…I’ll take a moment and let my girls observe and learn. The bats pee/poop trick is something that is now firmly planted in my head and I know Im going to be checking those bats out next time I see some whizzing by!
Yes, do! They will love watching them. Thanks for dropping by again Kirri. 🙂
We got bats during warm days and MiniMe is crazy about them! We take torches outside to watch them 🙂 I don’t like them as much mainly because they eat the figs and the apples in the trees 🙁 I like figs and apples.
Yay MiniMe! A torch is a great idea and I bet you spot other critters too!
Grace Titioka says
I will have to confess. I don’t like bats very much. There’s a section in the Sydney Botanical Gardens where there are heaps of them and that area always stinks of bat poo and urine. I also used to have a friend who’s car was parked under a bat colony and the next morning, her car (it was a deep purple colour) was just covered in bat poo ! It looked like it turned the car into one with polka dots !
But gee, Penny-licious, if you think they’re cool, I might just have to take your word on it and give them some love and observation time. Only for you, though 🙂
I’ve heard about the botanical gardens in Sydney. It is sad but be thankful they are there and not living next to your house!
Okay, so they are less civilised than us but the fact that they are the only mammal that can fly makes up for it, don’t you think? Plus, they pollinate flowers and disperse native seeds Bats ARE cool. :p
Susan Stephenson says
I love the fact you can look up at twilight and see through their wings. That’s awesome. But I’m with Grace re botanical gardens. They ruined a huge section of Melbourne’s, old trees were killed I believe. The stench was awful. While my logical brain understands that animal behaviour doesn’t need to be justified, it just IS, my emotional brain feels they’re picking on the trees! This is the same emotional brain that rescues dragonflies from spiders. I would never make a wildlife officer.
What a neat way to learn about bats! We recently learned that bats apparently can make homes quite near the ground when my 3-year-old in an unsupervised moment tore off a big piece of bark from an old rotten tree stump and we found a bat sleeping upside down underneath it. It was really neat to see it up close and the girls were super fascinated, although I felt bad about destroying his sleeping place. I tried to put the bark back but I haven’t seen the bat again.