Flying foxes

Different species

Flying foxes are mammals and belong to the Order Chiroptera (meaning 'hand-winged'). 

They play an important role in dispersing the pollen and fruit of many native trees, such as figs, palms, lilly-pillies and quandongs. 

There are three species of flying fox that occur in South-East Queensland, all belonging to the genus Pteropus:  

  • Black Flying Fox (Pteropus alecto)
  • Grey-headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)
  • Little Red Flying Fox (Pteropus scapulatus)

All three species are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, and Grey-headed Flying Foxes are listed as a vulnerable species nationally.

View map and monitoring results for flying fox colonies in the Region.

Little Red Flying Foxes

A large number of Little Red Flying Foxes have taken up residence in the Moreton Bay Region. These are not the same species as other bats that are normally found in the region.

Little Red Flying Foxes are nomadic and their presence in the Moreton Bay Region is expected to be temporary.

As part of their normal behaviour they follow flowering eucalypts into western areas of Queensland and the east coast.

Little Red Flying Foxes are nectar feeders and play an important role in the pollination of native flora and will move on when the flowering has finished.

View Little Red Flying Foxes fact sheet

Flying foxes and human disease

Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL) is closely related to the rabies virus. The best protection against being exposed to the virus is to avoid handling flying foxes.

A bat bite, scratch or mucous membrane exposure to bat saliva is necessary to transmit the virus. There is no risk of catching ABL from bats flying overhead, contact with bat urine or faeces or from fruit they may have eaten.

For more information see Queensland Health.

Hendra virus can cause disease in horses but only rarely in humans. It can be transmitted from flying fox to horse, horse to horse, and horse to human. Flying foxes are a natural reservoir for Hendra virus. Flying foxes do not show any signs of illness when infected with Hendra virus. Although Hendra virus infection is periodically present in flying fox populations across Australia, the likelihood of horses becoming infected is considered very low.

For more information see BioSecurity Queensland  

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