Flying Chihuahuas…

….and other strange creatures.

So, I am wandering in the Royal Botanical Park,

as I do on several afternoons a week, following no set path, when I see a sign about the flying foxes and their affect on the park. So I look up, and there, high above me, the tree is full of fruit bats.

I love bats, especially fruit bats. They look like Dracula Chihuahuas, hanging upside down, wrapped in their black cloaks, red and grey heads sticking out.

They are a cantankerous lot, loudly squabbling; the air was filled with their bickering, teeth bared, as they settled whatever bats argue about.  Some try to clamber passed one another on the branches, obviously disturbing their neighbor’s nap. A reason for an argument in any species, I’d say.  On one tree there were hundreds hanging in the hot mid afternoon sun, fanning themselves with their black wings. Once in a while one would float overhead and disappear into a tree.

I have never seen one effect a graceful landing. They seem to just bash into the leaves and somehow end up upside down, but my view was always obscured by the foliage. But I saw one little guy who had it sussed.

On the top of a particular tree was a bare branch which looked like an upside down, wide U.  Overhead, a bat glided towards it and caught it with his feet. Keeping his wings spread, he swung downwards, stopping at the exact bottom of his arc, no superfluous swinging, a perfect landing. He hung there for a few minutes, probably exalting in his skill and enjoying the sun on his face. He then inched his was down into the foliage, finding a cooler place to rest or tell his buddies about his acrobatic feat.

As I said, I love bats and these are things you should know about them:

They don’t fly into your hair.

Only one half of one percent of bats contract rabies, a rate the same as for any other wild animal. It is unlikely that they will attack you and pass it on. You might get something if you handle a dead bat, but then you are too stupid to live anyway.

If you like tequila, you should love bats. They are responsible for pollinating the agave plant from which tequila is made.

If you like bananas, cashews, figs or dates, you should love bats. They pollinate these plants or are responsible for seed dispersal.

If you hate mosquitoes you should love bats. They can eat about half their body weight of them in a single night.

They are the only mammal that flies.

So, go hug a bat. Well, actually, don’t.  Just love them from afar.

On another note about strange creatures…

These guys,

who I saw in Toronga Zoo and didn’t know what they were are binturongs or Bearcats. They live in South East Asia and apparently smell like hot buttered popcorn.  Now who wouldn’t want that around the house?


7 thoughts on “Flying Chihuahuas…

  1. Great blog – and photos! I love fruit bats too, I was born in Kluang, Malaysia – AKA “The town of the bats” due to the fruit bats that populate the area (although their numbers have deminished there due to their habitat being reduced). There is something quite endearing about them.

  2. I love it! Oh, those photos bring back such fond and happy memories of my times there – my very favourite place on the planet! How I wish I was sauntering through the Botanical Gardens with you, chatting, snacking and people-watching! Your photos are fantastic – but I want to see some with you in! MISS YOU! xxx

  3. I really enjoyed this, both pictures and the well written informative parts. They like eating mosquitos? Gee, maybe I should get one to send that friend of mine in Norway who is so paranoid of mosquitos! They’d make a good pet for her to have around.

  4. Those bats are beautiful. I don’t think I ever saw fruit bats for real. We have bats at home but they are all black and tiny. They hide during the day and come out at night. I wish I could come and visit the zoo with you…More please! XXX

  5. Batty! Loved the post. The pictures are wonderful, and it was really fun reading your blog! I was able to escape to sunny Sydney for a moment – until I realized that it’s snowing and wet outside… Vancouver weather, eh?

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