Flying foxes come into WIRES care for a variety of reasons, but the most common is after being entangled in barbed wire or netting. As Flying foxes are nocturnal and feed at night they can spend many hours and sometimes days entangled. Bone and joint damage are common injuries.
Federally listed as Vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, Grey-headed flying foxes are endemic to Australia and have sophisticated vocal communication, making more than 30 specific calls.
Did you know that Flying-foxes are known as keystone species? A keystone species is an organism that helps define an entire ecosystem. Without its keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether. Keystone species have low functional redundancy which means that if the species were to disappear from the ecosystem, no other species would be able to fill its ecological niche.
Flying-foxes are crucial to keeping native forests healthy. They pollinate many of our native plants by carrying pollen from plant-to-plant when feeding and spread seeds through their droppings. Because flying-foxes are highly mobile, seeds can be moved locally and over great distances. When seeds are able to germinate away from their parent plant, they have a greater chance of surviving and growing into a mature plant. Seed dispersal also expands the gene pool within forests. Mature trees then share their genes with neighbouring trees of the same species and this transfer strengthens forests against environmental changes.
Fossils show that Flying-foxes have been a part of the night sky for more than 35 million years.
Thank you Dr Megan and vet nurse Kim for the thorough attention to detail, which included anaesthetic and x-rays, when assessing and treating these Grey-headed flying-foxes.
Thankfully all had non-life threatening injuries and they will be released once fully recovered.
Pictures by Lib Ruytenberg