We need enormous quantities of fruit, especially in the new year when the pups are eating an increasing amount. Bananas and apples are the staple fruits we feed the bats, but both can encounter major difficulties in getting to us. It is the time of year when the old season apples are in short supply and the new season apples have not yet begun, making prices high and availability short. Cyclones anywhere down the coast of Queensland can close the main highways making it difficult to get apples through and cyclones locally can wipe out the local banana farms and leave us without power for up to 2 weeks. We have a generator that can run the cold room at those times.
We have 2 banana farms that donate fruit they cannot sell. The bananas arrive green by the trailer load. We spray 50 – 100kgs at a time with ethrel to ripen them. This process works well for us as it leaves us in control of the ripening process. They take about 7 days to ripen, less if it’s hot weather. They are fed to the bats as banana smoothie as well as fresh bananas that can be licked from feeder baskets.
Fortunately we live in a large agricultural area for bananas, but the apples need to come up from Stanthorpe about 2000 kms away. Other locally-grown fruits we obtain for the flying-foxes are watermelons, mangos, black sapote, rockmelon, mandarins etc
We have 1000kgs of apples delivered every 4-12 weeks depending on how many flying-foxes are in care. They arrive in 5 hat bins at a business in town who unload them off the truck and onto our little trailer.
We park the 4WD on a slope, cut a wide U-shape in the side of the cardboard bin and roll the apples out of the bin into the crates that go into the cold room.
Photo(right): We need a slide when unloading the bottom bin!