Netting dangers for fruit bats: WIRES

LOCAL WIRES volunteers are concerned fruit bats are getting caught in fruit tree netting.

Luckily, one little bat ended up in the care of two dedicated WIRES volunteers and is now recovering from the injuries that the netting caused.

The wrong kind of fruit tree netting can cause painful and fatal injuries to our small native animals.

The worst kind, and unfortunately the cheapest, is the dark thin-mesh monofilament netting also known as “anti-bird netting”.

It is sharp and can quite easily cut through a bird, reptile or bat's skin. This netting is very hard for the animals to see so they are likely to become entangled.

Netting that isn't pulled tightly over a tree is likely to ensnare animals. The photo above shows how the netting should be drawn tight to protect animals from getting caught up in it.

Medium sun block (50 per cent) shade cloth is another solution to protect your fruit without harming native animals. You just throw the shade cloth over the tree and secure it with pegs.

Bats eating your fruit can be a challenge, however, the bats themselves would prefer the blossoms of native trees as a food source.

Unfortunately for the bats, land clearance is reducing their access to their natural diet.

They seek out fruit when their traditional food sources such as native figs and lilly pilly berries or the nectar and pollen of eucalypts and other native trees such as paperbarks and banksias aren't available.

Bats are responsible in large part of the pollinating of our native trees and other flora in our forests and the dispersal of seeds throughout a wide area.

They are essential to the survival of diverse and healthy native forests. We owe them a great debt.

There are only about 450,000 grey-headed flying foxes left in Australia.

They have been listed as endangered and their numbers are still dropping.

Bats are mammals so the babies live on their mothers' milk.

When a flying fox lactating mother gets caught in netting the injuries are usually too severe for her to be immediately released. Sadly, this means that a baby back at the colony will die a slow death from starvation or dehydration.

Remember, never touch a bat that you see entangled. In native animal emergencies

in the Narooma area

, ring the WIRES hotline on 0427 020 327 and an experienced and vaccinated volunteer will come as quickly as possible.

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