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Introducing flying foxes

Centennial Parklands is home to Sydney’s largest flying fox colony. There are two species of flying-fox in the colony – the Black Flying-fox (Pteropus alecto) and the Grey-headed Flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus). Both are protected species in Australia.

Introducing flying foxes

Flying-foxes have been visiting the Parklands to feed on the flowers and fruits of native plants for many years. Grey-Headed Flying-Foxes play an important role in the Australian environment as they are natural pollinators and seed dispersers.

Read about the flying fox colony at Centennial Parklands 

Features of flying foxes

Features of flying foxes activities

  • Refer to a photograph of a flying fox with an outstretched wing. Either label the photograph or draw an observational drawing. Label the following features: large winged hands, protruding eyes, pointy ears, long pink tongue, wet nose, curved claws on toes, hook on thumb. In either a table, or as annotations on the drawing, state the function of each structural adaptation. 
  • Although flying foxes are nocturnal they don’t stay asleep all day. View the photographs of flying foxes. Look closely to find each of these daytime behaviours: sleeping, stretching, fighting, flying, scratching, climbing. Make inferences on reasons for three of these behaviours.
  • Replicate the structure of the wing of flying fox using found sticks, thin fabric or tissue paper and glue. Use string or a rubber band to bind the fingers and thumb together. Spread them out accurately and glue them onto the thin membrane. When dry fold the wing open and closed as a flying fox does. 
  • Examine the structure of a flying fox’s wing. What everyday objects mimic the features of a bat wing? Hint – one example is handy in the rain! This is called biomimicry. What other technologies mimic or are based on animal or plant adaptations? For example, investigate velcro and seed burrs or shark skin and elite athletes’ swimsuits. Use design and production skills to design a product based on a bat’s wing or other animal adaptation.