Flying-foxes, also known as Bats, Fruit Bats or Megabats, mainly live in forests in coastal areas of northern and eastern Australia. Four species of Flying-fox live in Australia: the Grey-headed Flying-fox, the Little Red Flying-fox, the Black Flying-fox and the Spectacled Flying-fox.
Flying-foxes sleep during the day in ‘camps’ of up to tens of thousands of individuals. They hang upside down to sleep, but have to turn up the other way to go to the toilet.
Flying-foxes eat blossoms, nectar and pollen and fly long distances. They pollinate many different plant species and disperse thousands of seeds long distances. Flying-foxes are the only flying mammal. At night they can fly up to 30 km, pollinating many plant species and dispersing up to 60,000 seeds across the land as they do. Flying-foxes are a wonderful buddy to have around as they are great pollinators.
Almost all hardwood species need Flying foxes for pollination. They are the only known pollinators of some rainforest species and are also important to native plants.
Flying-foxes don't use sound to navigate. They use their eyesight and smell. They can also navigate based on the lights in our cities!
You can look after Flying-foxes in your own backyard
Only use animal friendly netting to cover fruit trees or you may end up having to call a wildlife carer to rescue bats, birds or possums that get caught in it. It is a very stressful experience for animals caught in nets, and many don’t survive.
Plant native species of shrubs and trees that produce nectar giving flowers, blossoms and native fruits. This will keep the animals away from your fruit trees. Ask your nursery which plant species are locally native. These plants will also attract birds, as well as Flying-foxes, looking for food.
If you have barbed wire in your garden, replace it with a more animal friendly alternative.
Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies – to give you tips to help.
What is a backyard buddy?
Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The Flying-fox is a backyard buddy.
Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like Flying-foxes, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes. So you can be a backyard buddy.
Be a backyard buddy
It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps.
Step one is to find out what Flying-foxes do and do not like.
Nectar & Pollen – are the favourite food of Flying-foxes. They will also eat native fruits. They usually only eat cultivated fruits if their usual diet is in short supply.
Tall trees - to roost in during the day. Many thousands of individual Flying-foxes can roost together in a stand of tall trees.
Travelling around – they are largely nomadic and move on with the seasons.
But they don't like:
Barbed wire – which their wings can get entangled in. If a wildlife carer is called early enough, a Flying-fox can be rehabilitated from barbed wire fence injuries but sadly many do not survive.
Cocos Palms – which can give yummy food, but which Flying-foxes can also get stuck in! Sometimes they need to be rescued from Cocos Palms, and the unripe fruit is not good for them.
Loose netting – like the black throwover netting, is deadly to Flying-foxes and many other animals. Use only animal friendly netting if you want to protect your plants.
Be a Flying-fox buddy
Don't be surprised if:
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FLYING FOX FACT SHEET (214 KB)