Flying fox, my ass. You know that’s a bat.

21 Aug

After getting rejected from the City2Surf fun run, I ventured down to the Royal Botanical Gardens. The Botanical Gardens are beautiful — it’s a huge chunk of land that slopes down to the harbor and is incredibly well manicured, with a flagstone path guiding you along fountains and statues.

The garden is surrounded by a fence and the gate is opened at 6am on weekends, so you know someone must be around. But when I tentatively set foot inside the gate at 7:30 last Sunday morning, I definitely stood there for a moment, debating the wisdom of walking solo  into a park that seemed desserted.

I was still standing there imaging serial killers lurking at every turn, when I started seeing a few people on the paths in the distance. Activity was starting to pick up, so I proceeded.

(After the fact, I checked out Wikipedia for information on Australian serial killers. Australia has a pretty sizable list compared to other countries, which shouldn’t have come as a shock considering Australia was originally founded as a penal colony. The wording of one line item in particular disturbed me: John and Sarah Makin – who killed 12 children in their work as “baby farmers.” Seriously? Baby Farmers?)

OK. Back to modern-day Sydney. The gardens were gorgeous, but as I walked further along the path, I began to hear birds that sounded other-worldly. Definitely NOT like anything I’d ever  heard in the US. Of course I followed them, and ended up standing on a tree-lined path, staring up at what appeared to be enormous bats hanging in the tops of all the trees.

I froze for the second time, thinking, “Holy shit. I’ve escaped serial killers only to get attacked by a groundhog-sized bat. What is WITH this country?”

About this time, a very peppy-looking woman came walking along, clearly on her way to work or church or some kind of commitment that required her to look sharp at 7am. I pointed to the sky. “What ARE those?” I asked, cringing. There may or may not have been a puddle of urine around my feet at this point.

“They’re our flying foxes!” She answered, excitedly. “Brilliant, aren’t they?”

“Flying foxes?” I asked. “But they look like huge bats?”

“Oh, no. They’re vegetarians. There are some 20,000 of them up there in these trees.”

As I started looking around, I realized that most of the tree tops were bare, aside from the bats. I pointed this out to the woman.

“Yeah, it’s a problem. We’re trying to relocate them because they’re deforesting most of the trees here in the park.”

Vegetarian, my ass. Only until they run out of leaves.

The woman started to walk away, then turned back. “You know, if you see one on the ground you shouldn’t touch it, right?”

It wouldn’t have crossed my mind, but now I was curious. “Why not?”

“Because they can have the sick, especially if they’re on the ground.”

Have the sick? I’m pretty sure you mean rabies.

Told you they were bats.

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7 Responses to “Flying fox, my ass. You know that’s a bat.”

  1. whatimeant2say August 21, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    Maybe it’s a chupacabra…

    • pithypants August 21, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

      Good thought! I guess I’ll have to buy a goat and walk it down there to see what happens.

  2. thesinglecell August 21, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

    According to Jack Hanna (the dippidy-doo who’s always wearing safari gear and bringing weird-ass animals to Letterman), the flying fox is the world’s largest species of bat. Aussies think they’re soooo clever, renaming things. Um, foxes don’t fly. They just don’t.

    • pithypants August 21, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

      Oh, I know who Jack Hanna is. But now I also know the definition of “dippity doo.”

  3. bonnie August 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

  4. skippingstones August 23, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    It’s hilarious that she felt she had to tell you not to touch one. Maybe she thought, “Well, maybe I better – those crazy Americans.”

    • pithypants August 25, 2011 at 6:15 am #

      Right? Like I would want to pet a bat. No thanks.

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