Flying Fox

Flying foxes are living beings with needs, wants and feelings, just like you and I. Their population has massively declined in the last century, this is due to habitat loss (land clearing), camp disturbance, starvation, increased heat events, legal and illegal shooting, and man-made hazards like power lines, barbed wire and backyard fruit tree netting.


The flying fox is a  member of a large group of mammals called bats. Bats are the only group of mammals capable of sustained flight. Flying foxes are largely vegetarian, their preferred diet is nectar and pollen from native trees, as well as native fruits and berries. They feed on orchard fruits when their natural diet is in short supply and also eat insects when the opportunity arises. Flying foxes don't use sonar like smaller, insect-eating bats; only their eyes and ears like us. They see as well as a cat at night and are just about as smart.

How to live with your flying fox neighbours

They seem to squabble a lot, they eat your fruit, smell a bit funny and you hear they’re dangerous. It’s no wonder flying foxes aren’t the most welcome of neighbours! But like most neighbours, flying foxes are really not so bad when you get to know them. A local colony can be something to celebrate.

Flying foxes contribute greatly to the local environment and economy. When they join the commuter rush at dusk, flying foxes are off to their job as forest-makers. Incurable sweet-tooths, flying foxes eat fruit, nectar and blossom. In the process, they pollinate flowers and disperse seeds of important native trees. Winging their way around the landscape, up to 100 km in a night, flying foxes are responsible for the upkeep of many forest species.

Back from nightly labours, flying foxes hang out together in camps, some of which have been occupied for centuries.There’s a lot going on in these camps — courting, parenting, socialising, establishing the social hierarchy and of course snoozing.

Flying foxes smell different from humans. It’s not dirtiness – flying foxes spend hours grooming, so their personal hygiene is exemplary. Their smell helps flying foxes identify each other and communicate things like ‘keep your distance’. One dominant odour is a musk-like ‘perfume’ that males use to mark their breeding territories. What you find smelly, they may find attractive.

Flying foxes only take 15-20 minutes to digest food and mostly toilet away from camps. Mind you, it’s best to bring in your washing before dusk and park your car under shelter to prevent staining by the odd dropping, which, by the way, can be easily lifted by leaving a damp rag on top.

Thank you to Fauna Rescue SA for their kind and knowledgeable advice on which this information is based.

Fun Facts
Fun Facts
Fun Facts

Colonies can have up to 200000 flying foxes in them. 

Fun Facts
Fun Facts
Fun Facts

The biggest flying foxes have 1.6 metre wingspans.

Fun Facts
Fun Facts
Fun Facts

Flying fox mothers typically give birth to a maximum of one baby every year.

Fun Facts
Fun Facts
Fun Facts

Unlike birds which can easily take off from a standing position, flying foxes typically drop from heights before taking flight, so hanging upside down means taking off is just a matter of letting go.

Fun Facts
Fun Facts
Fun Facts

Flying foxes live in large social groups called colonies or camps where hundreds or even thousands of flying foxes can be spotted hanging upside down from the tops of trees.

Fun Facts
Fun Facts
Fun Facts

Flying foxes invert to go to the toilet, turning upside down for them, but the right way up as we would see it