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Scientific name: Pteropus poliocephalus
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Vulnerable
Gazetted date: 04 May 2001
Profile last updated: 15 Apr 2015
The Grey-headed Flying-fox is the largest Australian bat, with a head and body length of 23 - 29 cm. It has dark grey fur on the body, lighter grey fur on the head and a russet collar encircling the neck. The wing membranes are black and the wingspan can be up to 1 m. It can be distinguished from other flying-foxes by the leg fur, which extends to the ankle.
Grey-headed Flying-foxes are generally found within 200 km of the eastern coast of Australia, from Rockhampton in Queensland to Adelaide in South Australia. In times of natural resource shortages, they may be found in unusual locations.
Habitat and ecology
- Occur in subtropical and temperate rainforests, tall sclerophyll forests and woodlands, heaths and swamps as well as urban gardens and cultivated fruit crops.
- Roosting camps are generally located within 20 km of a regular food source and are commonly found in gullies, close to water, in vegetation with a dense canopy.
- Individual camps may have tens of thousands of animals and are used for mating, and for giving birth and rearing young.
- Annual mating commences in January and conception occurs in April or May; a single young is born in October or November.
- Site fidelity to camps is high; some camps have been used for over a century.
- Can travel up to 50 km from the camp to forage; commuting distances are more often <20 km.
- Feed on the nectar and pollen of native trees, in particular Eucalyptus, Melaleuca and Banksia, and fruits of rainforest trees and vines.
- Also forage in cultivated gardens and fruit crops.
Regional distribution and habitat
Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.
- Loss of roosting and foraging sites.
- Electrocution on powerlines, entanglement in netting and on barbed-wire.
- Heat stress.
- Conflict with humans.
A targeted strategy for managing this species has been developed under the Saving Our Species program; click here for details. For more information on the Saving Our Species program click here
Activities to assist this species
- Protect roost sites, particularly avoid disturbance September through November.
- Identify and protect key foraging areas.
- Manage and enforce licensed shooting.
- Investigate and promote alternative non-lethal crop protection mechanisms.
- Identify powerline blackspots and implement measures to reduce deaths; implement measures to reduce deaths from entanglement in netting and on barbed-wire.
- Increase public awareness/understanding about flying-foxes, and their involvement in flying-fox conservation.
- Monitor the national population's status and distribution.
- Improve knowledge on demographics and population structure to better understand ecological requirements of the species.
- Churchill, S. (1998) Australian Bats. New Holland, Sydney.
- Conder, P. (1994) With Wings on their Fingers. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
- Hall, L. and Richards, G. (2000) Flying Foxes; fruit and blossom bats of Australia. UNSW Press, Sydney.
- NSW Scientific Committee (2001) Grey-headed flying fox - Vulnerable species determination - final. DEC (NSW), Sydney.
- Tidemann, C.R. (1995) Grey-headed Flying-fox Pteropus poliocephalus. Pp. 439-40 in Strahan, R. (ed.) The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.