Ficus, like all flying foxes is very furry and cute, with beautiful big winged hands, big brown eyes, pointy ears, a long pink tongue and a wet button nose. One day, in the Royal Botanic Gardens, in Sydney, Ficus was living in a small forest of trees surrounded by many other flying foxes, including cousins, siblings, aunties and uncles. Ficus liked it there but noticed that the forest was getting smaller, trees were disappearing, and things were getting crowded as there were more bats roosting on less trees. It was also getting harder to find food. These eucalypt trees were like family to the bats, providing sweet nectar food from their blossoms and the large leafy canopy providing shelter and shade for Ficus and the bat colony.
Ficus was worried as the forest got smaller and wasn’t sure how long they could survive there. It was time to find a find a new home, somewhere where there are lots of trees that provide food and good shelter, so Ficus waited for the sun to go down and flew off in search of a new home.
In search of a new home
Ficus was flying over the top of the city, and as it looked down across the rows and rows of bright lights it noticed a large patch that was dark, so the bat flew down and he landed in a pine tree in Centennial Park. He landed and hung upside down but didn’t realise that sleeping in this pine tree were two sulphur crested cockatoos; ‘Squawk!’ yelled one of the cockatoos angrily.
‘Oh dear,’ said Ficus, ‘I did not mean to disturb you, you see I am trying to find a new home, somewhere I can sleep during the day and somewhere that is close to food.’
‘You will not find food on this tree,’ chuckled the cockatoo, ‘you see this is a pine tree, it does not produce the lovely nectar or fruit that you like to eat. No, it produces lovely scrumptious seeds that humans call pine cones. We love to eat the pine cones and in doing so we help spread the seeds for the pine tree so more will grow. Perhaps you may like to collect one of these seeds to take back with you to show the other flying foxes.’
‘Thank you’ said Ficus as one of the cockatoos passed him a seed.
A Moreton Bay Fig
Ficus looked across from the pine tree and smelt a very different sort of tree. A tree Ficus instantly recognised from its evening fly outs in search of food. Ficus’ eyes lit up with excitement for this tree bears his favourite fruit. Fig. It was a Moreton Bay Fig tree.
As Ficus landed on the branch in the canopy and started gorging on the fig fruit, he heard a little cry. Looking up at the branch he was hanging from he could see two very white soft wings shaking.
‘ Ahh, please don’t eat me, please don’t eat me.’ The small creature exclaimed.
Ficus laughed and replied, ‘I don’t eat moths, I am a flying fox, I eat nectar and fruit. Tiny Micro bats are the ones that like to eat you.’
‘Thank goodness for that,’ said the moth as she flew over to meet Ficus.
‘Do you think this Moreton Bay Fig tree would be a good home for myself, my family and my friends to live?’ asked Ficus.
The moth thought a moment, looked at Ficus and said ‘Maybe for you and a few others but not for thousands of you. It might be good for a quick dinner stop but not sure if you’d want to sleep here’
‘Of course, you are right. Perhaps I should journey into there.’ Ficus replied as he pointed with his wing towards Lachlan Wetland.
Just as Ficus was about to fly off, the moth yelled, ‘perhaps you should take a leaf with you to show the others that there is food available!’
‘Good idea’ said Ficus.
Discovering Lachlan Wetland
Ficus with its large winged hands flew through Lachlan Wetland, over the understory of sword grass and fern and landed on the large paperbark tree in the middle (upside down of course). With its large brown eyes, the bat scanned the wetland. Using its super hearing bat ears Ficus could hear something down below. It was coming from the Lomandra grass.
Ficus flew down to investigate what was moving, finding a low branch to roost on and using its wing hands pushed back the leaves and peered through the long blades of grass.
‘Who is that?’ asked a voice from within.
‘My name is Ficus, I am a Flying fox. Who are you?’
‘I am Bluey,’ Said a bluetongue lizard emerging from within the Lomandra. ‘How can I be of service to you? It must be very important for you to disturb my slumber.’
‘I am looking for a new home. Do you know if there might be any suitable trees for myself and my friends and family to live? There are about 15,000 of us.’ replied Ficus.
‘I am afraid I cannot help you there Ficus.’ Said Bluey. ‘You see I am a ground dwelling reptile, I spend most of my time in the sun to warm by body and sheltering in this Lomandra plant to keep cool and to protect myself from danger. I do not know where a Flying Fox such as yourself would live. But perhaps you can collect a piece of this Lomandra to remind you of the plants that can be found in Centennial Park’.
Ficus flew off again and down the path.
Ficus landed on this paperbark tree and was starting to feel sad.
‘Will I find a home for myself and my friends and family?’ Ficus asked himself.
A home in the paperbarks
As tears started to well in his eyes a little voice from bellow him came up through the dark.
‘Why are you crying?’ asked the voice.
‘I need a new home for me, my friends and my family and I cannot find one.’
‘I know where you can live.’ The voice said and revealed itself. It was a brushtail possum with a lovely bushy tail.
‘You do?!’ replied Ficus in a most excited voice.
‘I live in this paperbark tree. I sleep here during the day in the hollow of this tree. I only need a 50-metre area to live in, so I do not mind sharing this area with you. You can live right here in the canopy above me, in this tree and all the other trees in the wetland. You see this is a paperbark tree and paperbark trees produce a lovely flower twice a year that you can get nectar from. I like to eat the flower too, it is scrumptious’.
‘Thanks, great’ exclaimed Ficus, ‘I am going to collect some paperbark and some paperbark leaves and take them back to my friends and family. Thank you so much possum, I now have a new home!’
Fresh water to drink
As Ficus was ready to fly fast to tell his friends and family, but after all its hard work, some water was needed. So, Ficus flew down to have a drink, flying over the surface of the big shimmering pond and dipping its chest in the water. Roosting in a nearby tree Ficus licked the water drops of its fur and thought, hmm the water was clean but a bit sludgy.
‘Never fear about this brown sludge,’ said the frog. ‘This water comes up from under the ground and that brown sludge comes from out of the rocks as the water passes through. This water goes out to a pond and is clean enough for you to drink.’
Ficus smiled at the frog and said, ‘Thank you, this means my new home also has a place for me and my friends and family to drink.’
As a Ficus flew out of the wetland the bat noticed that the sun was beginning to rise. It was time to return to all the family and friends and tell them the good news. Ficus had found them a new home.
A new home in Centennial Parklands
The next time the sun went down the flying foxes followed as Ficus led the way, to a beautiful a park in the middle of a big busy city – Sydney’s Centennial Parklands.
Ficus the flying fox activities
- Use a storyboard or series of sketches to summarise the key elements of the story of Ficus the Flying Fox Finds a New Home. Write captions or speech bubbles to add meaning. Alternatively, retell the story in the first person voice of Ficus.
- Generate a table and list each of the animals mentioned in the story, including flying foxes. Use the information shared through the story to list the habitat of each animal, its adaptations, its food and environmental benefits the animal provides.
- Use loose natural materials collected from the ground to create an ephemeral artwork that represents the Centennial Parklands environment described in the story. Take a partner on a ‘tour’ of the environment, verbally explaining the key features and the animals and their habitats. Explain why the environment provides a suitable habitat for flying foxes.