I enjoy watching bats fly over our house at night and I was looking forward to teaching my edelst daughter what we can learn from watching a flying fox colony.
Except, when we went to our local park to watch the bats and get some great photos, they had left.
Every. Single. One.
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, two months later, the flying foxes returned.
Watching a Flying foxes with Kids
I really want to encourage you to visit a bat colony and observe these flying mammals. 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 but there’s so much to learn and so much to see.
What to take:
- A mat to sit on
- A camera – a perfect way to document your experience.
- A torch (for you when it get’s dark)
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 that live in caves and some that 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. What happens and how can you tell which is which
- That bats talk to each other and 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 and 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?