Caring for native wildlife in ACT
Photograph by Peter Hammond
Recently our newest Sponsor a Species Wildlife Warriors spent time learning about our work rescuing, caring and releasing birds.
Sponsor a Species is a program designed for everyone to be involved in helping our wildlife. Wildlife Warriors have the opportunity for up close encounters with the species they choose to support. Learn more.
Our bat aviary at Jerrabomberra is now complete and ready for it’s new occupants. Last month it was officially opened by Dermot O’Gorman, Chief Executive Officer of the WWF-Australia. Their very generous donation of $50,000 allowed the aviary to be constructed to house pre-release bats that will finish their rehabilitation with flight practise then be released from the aviary through a specially constructed release hatch. Marg Peachey, President ACT Wildlife, thanked WWF-Australia for their support and partnership in this project.
Bats or Flying Foxes are a vital part of the environment in the pollination process of native trees and shrubs. They are far more efficient than birds and bees. See below for more information about Megabats and Microbats.
Photo from left: Jim Peachey, Barbara Mabbott, Sandra Corbett, Denise Kay (ACTW Bat Coordinator), Marg Peachey (ACTW President), Dermot O’Gorman (CEO, WWF-Australia) and Bonnie Monkhouse (Capital Certifiers).
We are the only wildlife care group in the ACT that rescues, rehabilitates and releases native animals. As a not-for-profit and charity we rely on donations to support the work of our volunteers.
Volunteers are our backbone. We welcome you to help in all aspects of rescue and care of the common species in the ACT including behind the scenes work. Training is provided.
Call our 24/7 Hotline
0432 300 033
Gently place the animal in a box with a towel or cloth and keep it warm and quiet. If you are unable to contain the animal, please stay near it and call our hotline with directions for rescue.
Baby birds come out of their nests and cannot fly well for a few days. They are attended to by their parents during this time. Please watch from a distance and if you do not see parents then they may need to be rescued. This is usually not necessary. Call if you want to report an ‘abandoned’ magpie or bird – 0432 300 033
You can love your cat and wildlife too. ACT Wildlife supports cat containment in all suburbs of Canberra.
Birds, especially magpies are abundant in the ACT. They frequent places where people eat and because people feed them they begin to rely on this (inappropriate) food and demand it.
With fruit ripening on trees inappropriate netting traps birds and flying foxes. Netting should have holes that you cannot put your little finger through and be stretched on a frame away from the branches. This means that birds and flying foxes can land and take off from the netting. Otherwise they get hopelessly caught up in loose, sloppy nets. Protecting Wildlife Netting Brochure: Flying foxes should not be touched because of the danger of Lyssavirus, a fatal disease unless you are vaccinated. If you should be bitten or scratched you should attend the hospital emergency clinic immediately and leave rescue of the animal to vaccinated carers with ACT Wildlife.
See below for the importance of bats to our environment.
Bats can be divided into two main groups: Megabats and Microbats.
Megabats are commonly known as Flying-foxes. Two species of Flying-foxes are encountered in the ACT: the Grey Headed Flying-fox and the Little Red Flying-fox.
If you find a flying fox caught in fruit netting or on a barbed wire fence DO NOT HANDLE the bat. A bite or a scratch could transfer Lyssavirus to your body. If you are bitten or scratched please see you doctor immediately. Lyssavirus is fatal unless you are treated. Call ACT Wildlife on 0432 300 033 to rescue the bat.
Since 2006 both these species have been roosting in Commonwealth Park over the summer. Most of the colony leaves each winter, so there could be several thousand or none. From September to March each year there is also a maternity colony in Commonwealth Park.
Flying-foxes live in communal camps/colonies. They prefer to camp in dense vegetation near water. They have camps in various places during the year as they are following food sources. Their summer camps are usually larger because they are breeding colonies. They establish roost sites within 30 – 50 km of feeding sites and will fly that distance each night to get to food sources. They tend to use the same sites every year.
In ACT and surrounding areas there are 14 species of Microbats. Microbats vary in size but the most common bats in our region are the Chocolate Wattled Bat 5.5-10.3g, Gould’s Wattled Bat. 10-20g, Lesser Long Eared Bat 4.6-14.5g and Little Forest Bat. 6-8.3. Occasionally other species are recorded.
Microbats are insectivorous and use echolocation to find energy-rich food: moths, flying and terrestrial insects, spiders, beetles, flying termites and mosquitos. Some species have specialized diets and eat fish (myotis), orb spiders (phoeniscus). They eat up to 50% of their weight each night and can catch up to 500 insects in an hour’. They are a vital part of our environment in keeping insect numbers down.
Some species of Microbats can fly at 60kg/hr and fly up to 30km to find food each night. Their wingspan is approximately 25cm (depending on species) and weight of adults ranges from approx. 2g – 170g (depending on species). Microbats make up the vast majority of Australian bats and have long lifespans compared to other small animals, over 20 years for most species.
The ACT Wildlife website is under transition.