The large flight cage for flying foxes was built in 2003. It is 12 metres wide, 14.5 metres long, 3 metres high at the sides and 6 metres high in the middle. There are no internal posts. It has a waterproof cover and shade-cloth over 4.5 metres at one end where the Feeding cages are located. It is lined externally with galvanised wire mesh 25mm by 12mm, and internally with 25mm square netting. The netting is tensioned away from the wire, or hangs vertically down to provide a soft landing for the bats, protecting their wings from the harshness of the wire mesh.
We squeegee all the waste off the floor and recycle it though large worm farms. Cages are then hosed. All the internal feeding cages, and the Orphan cage have gutters that gravity drain into a pump-well in the big cage. A cutter pump takes the waste water to a septic system.
While it is possible to catch the bats in the 6 metre enclosure (see photo below), it is easier to wait until they come down for food. They enter the feeding area through a hatch. Attached to the hatch door is a rope that extends up to the house. When pulled, it closes the hatch door, trapping all those who are down feeding. Of course you do not always catch the particular bat you want! Bats that need ongoing care are kept down below in the Treatment cage.
There are 2-metre-wide double doors at each short end of the cage, one leads into the Feeding area, the other to the cold room. The Feeding area has a central ‘human area’ with a sink and refrigerator, and Feeding cages on either side. The main flight area of the cage has a thick bed of mulch/grass and a large fig tree. It is a sand-paper fig and so quite robust but the bats still manage to annihilate it. It is deciduous so usually bounces back to some extent. We have tried growing a range of trees in the cage but many failed as the leaves were either eaten by the bats (eg mulberry) or broken by the hundreds of orphans in there for a few months each year.
In these 2 photos opposite you can just see the netting area (it’s black) outside the cage that extends across to Middle/Orphan cage. This allows unreleasable flying-foxes that live on the outside of the cage to move around from tree to tree.