Spectacled Flying-fox Pteropus conspicillatus

Bats, as I'm sure you're aware, are the only mammals with wings capable of true flight. This large bat (Macro-bat) is a regular visitor to our garden, pilfering fruit from the trees at whim (which is a small price to pay - and there's plenty of fruit to go round).

She announces her arrival in the evening via her large membranous wings making an unmistakable sound - a rush of air followed by a faint snap, like the lazy flick of a damp tea-towel, a disturbance in the trees and the drumming of desiccated fruit hitting the ground.

On the night these pics were taken it was raining, but she didn't seem perturbed in the slightest. I imagine that a little rain water would just aid in cleaning the sticky juice from her fur later.

The Spectacled Flying-fox has been demonstrated to have the greatest tolerance to ranges of ambient temperature of any mammal. Air temperatures from freezing to up to 40 °C cause almost no change in the species' metabolic rate. Their ability to use their wings to control heat loss is a major factor in this ability (Richards & Spencer 1998).

I find these animals fascinating and they make excellent Mums with reports that older females will 'instruct' new mothers on the best way to care for her young (pup). The whole 'you're doing it wrong' from the mother-in-law thing eh? ... bless 'em.

Conception occurs in April to May, but sexual activity is continuous from about January to June. As with other flying-foxes, the females give birth to one young per year, in the October to December period. Juveniles are nursed for over five months and, on weaning, congregate in nursery trees in the colony.

The juveniles fly out for increasing distances with the colony at night and are 'parked' in nursery trees, often kilometres distant from the colony, and are brought back to the colony in the morning (Richards & Spencer 1998).

Colonies can be seen roosting together during the day in numbers perhaps into the hundreds - but they are listed as vulnerable and they certainly don't have things all their own way.

Flying foxes are preyed upon by crocs, snakes, raptors and monitor lizards. They are also sometimes killed (illegally) by people fearing that they carry the Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) - which is related to rabies and if contracted has a significant mortality rate. They also carry the Hendra virus which has a human mortality rate of 60% - infection transmission is via an intermediate host, (usually horses) - there is no evidence of direct transmission from bats to humans.

Unfortunately for the bats there have been sporadic outbreaks of the virus heavily reported in that fox news, sensationalist way that Australian networks are famous for. Thus creating undue anxiety for the public when the reality is the risk of infection is low.

MP Bob Katter - not a fan of bats or beatles.
courier mail
We also have a slightly cartoonish MP who during his election campaign - called for the culling and relocating of macro-bats in suburban areas due to the perceived health risk (although the original complaint was that the bats were "noisy and smelly").

Bobs other claim to fame is pelting the beatles with eggs when they toured here in 1964 as an "intellectual reaction against Beatlemania." ...

An important point to remember in this argument, is that bats are keystone species, in particular spectacled flying foxes - as they spread seeds required for the regeneration of rainforest and are usually found roosting no more than six kilometers from their canopy feeding grounds.

Healthy rainforests require healthy macro-bat populations. So let's spare a thought for our flying cousins, remembering that Bats are more closely related to humans and other primates than they are to rodents and live and let live eh? :)

 Pteropus conspicillatus

That paw paw didn't stand a chance

Someone's been stealing the fruit ya say?

Of all the animals in Australia that have been labelled as threats to man - the number one killer of human beings is, wait for it ... horses. Yep - horses, with cows coming in second.

Dear ole' Bessy is a stone cold killer, but I'm yet to hear of one politician calling for horses to be shot or electrocuted.

... funny that.


  1. Great article. Well written and accurate (apart from using the words Katter and Intellectual in the same breath). With regard to Lyssavirus, it should be noted that there is a 100% effective post-exposure treatment. So if you get bitten or scratched by any type of bat, you need to see a doctor for treatment without delay.

    I have been lucky enough to rescue and work with Australian bat species (I'm a vaccinated carer) and your local Spectacled Flying-foxes are easily my favourite. Thank you for this informative article.

    P.S. They are not just macro, they are "Mega" bats :-)

    1. Thanks for the comment Steve. Good to know there is a post-exposure treatment, even less reason for some the hysteria out there eh?

      And yes, sage advice - " if you get bitten or scratched by any type of bat, you need to see a doctor for treatment without delay"

      Take Care.


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