Halloween may be a people-focused festivity, but Griffith University researchers are giving bats a chance to have their ‘treat’ too.
A group of ecologists and students will gather at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus every Thursday morning for the next few weeks to make fruit kebabs to support local flying foxes.
Flying foxes on the Gold Coast have faced a tough dry winter and spring, with a scarcity in flowers resulting in longer daylight feeding periods and bat deaths due to starvation.
Sadly, even fruit is a ‘starvation avoidance food’ for bats with nectar from flowers their preferred choice, so their fruit ‘treats’ on campus are designed to act as a temporary addition to their normal diet.
Drought and a decreasing number of suitable trees mean that grey headed flying foxes and other species are facing food shortages along the east coast of Australia but grey headed flying foxes on the Gold Coast have been particularly hard hit, with many reports of them literally falling out of the sky.
Ecologist and botanist Professor Catherine Pickering from the School of Environment and Science said the group would meet and make the fruit kebabs until their normal food sources are back flowering in abundance as a temporary addition to their natural diet.
“Flying foxes are critical for our environment, their pollination of plants is vital to many ecosystems so it’s important we try to look after their populations as best we can.
“We have grey headed flying foxes that feed on our flowering trees and figs on campus so providing some more food will allow them to feed away from urban areas, humans and domestic animals.”
The team plans to set up motion cameras to see if bats are enjoying the fruit.
The team hopes to educate and inspire residents to do the same away from human and domestic animal contact, and encouraged those that could not make fruit kebabs to support the conservation efforts of Bats Queensland and the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital through donations.