Tube-nosed Fruitbat Rescue and Diet
We used to rescue about 6 tube-nosed fruit bats (Nyctimene robinsonii) a year, but this has now more than doubled in the last few years. 99% are found caught on barbed wire fences, and the occasional one attacked by a cat. Like the blossom bats many die from exposure fairly quickly. The extent of their injuries means that only about 35% can be released. Our wildlife friendly fencing project is working to minimise the harm that barbed wire fencing can cause these beautiful animals. Their short broad wings ensure their flight is highly manoeuvrable and they can easily hover. It is therefore extremely important that they have a full recovery from barbed wire injuries.
When these bats initially come into care they seem to prefer a hard not-so-sweet fruit such as red apple, but over time they often include fruits such as rockmelon, guava, lichee, custard apple, grapes or banana. We present it on small s-hooks as their preferred method of eating is to hold fruit against their chests with their thumb claws, wrapping themselves around the fruit. They can be difficult eaters, displaying different food preferences that can change very quickly. Some will eat only banana, for example, then suddenly stop and it can take some time until you manage to find exactly what it is s/he wants. Flying-foxes are much easier to feed. The tube-noseds are not nectar feeders like the pollinating bats so their tongues are not designed for licking. They bite rather than lick juice off the end of a syringe or teat.