© Bruce Thomson
Spectacled flying-foxes were first described in 1850 by Gould from a specimen collected on Fitzroy Island. They are important seed dispersers and pollinators of rainforest flora. Spectacled flying-foxes have the smallest known distribution and population of the four Australian mainland Pteropus flying-foxes.
QLD CONSERVATION STATUS:
NATIONAL CONSERVATION STATUS:
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.
Did you know?
Persecution by fruit-growers using electric grids to kill feeding flying-foxes in Far North Queensland was a major threat to the species in the early part of the 21st century. A series of court cases by conservationists demonstrated that the very existence of the species, and consequently the World Heritage Area Wet Tropics forests, was at risk. The cases set a legal precedent and resulted in electric grids being banned in Queensland.
Threats to little spectacled flying-foxes
- Habitat destruction through the large-scale clearing of coastal and upland habitats for sugar, grazing and urban development.
- Mortality due to paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus).
- Disturbance at maternity colonies.
- Death of unknown numbers on barbed wire fences and powerlines.
- Predators — dogs and cats.
- Only travel 20-30 km from camp to feed.
- Coastal Queensland from Tully to the tip of Cape York and islands in Torres Strait.
- Spectacled flying-foxes are generally found in or around rainforests and sometimes in mangroves associated with black flying-foxes.
- Spectacled flying-foxes have distinctive straw-coloured fur around the eyes which gives them their name.
- Eye rings can sometimes be indistinct and they will look similar to black flying-foxes.
- Pale fur on shoulders can vary between individuals.
- Average weight 500-1000 g.
- Head-body length 220-240 mm.
- Tall rainforests, gallery forest, mangroves or paperbark forests.
Life history and behaviour
- Little is known about the life span of spectacled flying-foxes in the wild but can live in captivity for 17 years.
- Usually, roost in single-species camps.
- Territorial and aggressive at rich food resources.
- Forage only during the night.
- Mating is common throughout the first half of the year but conception only in March-May, single young born October-December.
- Mothers give birth upside down and carry the young for 3-4 weeks.
- Older young stay at the camp until they start to fly.
- Specialist fruit eater that feeds mostly on rainforest fruits, some eucalyptus nectar and pollen.
- Disperses seeds of at least 26 species of rainforest canopy trees.
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.