© James Dorey

The grey-headed flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) is the largest Australian fruit bat with a wingspan of up to one metre. It is the only flying-fox species with a collar of orange/brown fur that fully encircles the head and with fur right down their legs to the toes. They have sophisticated vocal communication, making more than 30 specific calls.


Quick facts

Grey-headed flying-fox

Pteropus poliocephalus


Least Concern


How we help flying-foxes

Every summer for more than 30 years, Wildlife Queensland’s Batty Boat Cruises have introduced thousands of people to the fascinating world of flying-foxes. This successful education initiative provides an opportunity for everyone to see flying-foxes in their natural habitat and learn why they are so important to our environment. Proceeds from the cruises fund bat conservation and support bat carers within Queensland.

Batty Boat Cruise© Amanda Little

Did you know?

Grey-headed flying-foxes will flap their wings in hot weather, using blood pumped through the patagium to cool the body temperature.

Grey-headed flying-fox© Canva NFP

Threats to grey-headed flying-foxes

  • Habitat loss
  • Disturbance of roosting sites
  • Unregulated shooting
  • Powerlines and barbed-wire fences
  • Domestic dogs


Home range

  • Some grey-headed flying-foxes stay permanently in one camp; others will travel widely between camps to feed on irregularly flowering eucalypts.

  • Nightly feeding range of 20-50 km from camp.

  • In winter, adults can migrate up to 750 km from their summer camps.


  • Occurs along the east coast of Australia from Rockhampton in Queensland to western Victoria and inland to the western slopes.


  • Grey-headed flying-foxes are the only flying-fox species with a collar of orange/brown fur that fully encircles the head.
  • Grey-headed flying-foxes are the only species with fur right down their legs to the toes.
  • Average weight 600–1000g.
  • Head–body length 230-290mm.
  • Head covered in grey fur.
  • Belly fur grey with flecks of white or ginger.
  • Back fur can be dark grey or can have silver or frosted appearance (might be related to age/moult/subpopulation).


  • Live in a large variety of habitats, occur in the rainforest, mangroves, paperbark swamps, wet and dry sclerophyll forests and cultivated areas.


Life history and behaviour

  • Long-lived, the average age of reproduction is 6–10 years.
  • Generally, have one offspring a year.
  • Congregate in large camps of up to 200,000 individuals from early until late summer.
  • Camp populations can include grey-headed, little red and black flying foxes.
  • Camps are commonly formed in gullies and close to water.


  • Mating begins January–March.
  • Pregnant females congregate in maternity camps a couple of weeks before giving birth in September–October after a gestation period of 6 months.
  • Females carry young while they forage for the first three weeks of life.
  • After the first three weeks, young are left at the camp while females forage at dusk. The females find their young by scent when they return to camp.


  • Forage on fruits and blossoms of more than 80 species of plants. Prefer eucalypt blossom with native figs being the most popular fruit.
  • Chew leaves and appear to eat the salt glands from mangroves.
  • They also forage in gardens, parks and orchards and may fly many kilometres from roost site to feed, some round trips are about 30 km.

More information

Publications & papers

  • Hall, L. & Richards, R. (2000). Flying-foxes and fruit and blossom bats of Australia. Australian Natural History Series. UNSW Press.
  • Menkhorst, P. & Knight, F. (2004) A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia. Oxford University Press.

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