The Great Pollinators

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Flying foxes (or fruit bats) are the largest member of the bat family and therefore have a very large impact on pollination. They can disperse larger seeds over greater distances than other pollinating animals. A single fruit bat can 60,000 seeds from over 50 native plants in a single night.

“Flying foxes are foresters keeping the eco-system together. If we are to keep the remnants of our forests healthy, we need the flying foxes. The two are inseparable.”

Chief Conservation Office of Bush Heritage Australia

There are 4 types of flying fox found in Australia; the grey-headed flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), the little red flying-fox (Pteropus scapulatus), the spectacled flying-fox (Pteropus conspicillatus), and the black flying-fox (Pteropus alecto). Of these 4 only 2 are found in Victoria; the grey-headed flying-fox, and the little red flying fox.

The grey-headed flying fox has a rusty reddish-coloured collar, grey head and hairy legs. It is the most vulnerable species because it competes with humans for coastal habitats.

As the name suggests the little red flying fox is the smallest of the Australian flying foxes, weighing only 300-600 grams, and have a reddish brown colour. They are the most widespread megabat in Australia and are found further inland than other flying foxes.

Flying foxes are nomadic creatures that can travel from Queensland to Victoria in just a few months. The population density in an area at any given time is directly linked to the availability of food. During the day flying foxes will roost in trees near a food source. When food is abundant they will roost further from the food in larger camps while less food results in more smaller camps closer to the source.

National Flying-fox monitoring viewer

Threats to Flying-Foxes

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1.Fruit Netting
and barbed-wire
2.Loss of Habitat

3.Conflict with humans

4.Camp disturbances
5.Illegal shootings

7.Poisoning from non-native plants

8.Heat Stress


Over the last several years there have tragically been some stated that have allowed the shooting of flying foxes. This not only has a great impact on the flying fox population and subsequently the native environment, but also raises issues about cruelty. The shooting of flying foxes to prevent damage to crops is not only a less effective measure of crop protection but also extremely cruel. Many of the shot animals are not killed only injured, leaving them to die slowly over a period of days of either infection or dehydration. Using wildlife safe netting is a very simple and effective alternative to shooting and helps to protect BOTH the crop and the precious wildlife.

Wildlife Friendly Netting

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wildlife friendly netting
The wrong type of netting can be not only deadly but inhumane. Most fatal injuries to flying foxes are caused by the wrong kind of netting draped loosely over trees.

Using Wildlife friendly netting can:

1.Decrease animal entanglement by up to 90%

2.Decrease animal entanglement by up to 90%

3.Decrease risk to other animals and people from entangled animals

4.Reduce cost (wildlife safe netting is stronger and lasts longer and does not need to be replaced because it was damaged by an entangled animal

5.Significantly decreases cost and workload for wildlife shelters and volunteer wildlife workers

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Protections and Penalties

Both the grey-headed and spectacled flying fox are listed as threatened under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

They are considered 'Vulnerable' due to a significant decline in numbers and are at risk of extinction due to the slow reproductive rate (one young per year) and the high infant mortality rates.

The grey-headed flying-fox is protected under several state and federal wildlife protection acts. Under these protections it is illegal to kill, injure, or harass these flying foxes.

Harassing or causing injury carries a maximum penalty of $3,109.

Causing death can result in a fine of up to $37,310 and/or 24 months of imprisonment.

Further penalties under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 may also apply.

DO NOT pick up Flying Foxes, even those in distress, as they may carry lyssavirus.
if you find an injured animal please call the South Oakleigh Wildlife Shelter.
more information

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