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.
- 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 500-1000g.
- Head-body length 220-240mm.
- Tall rainforests, gallery forest, mangroves or paperbark forests.
- Little is known about the life span of spectacled flying foxes in the wild but can live in captivity for 17 years.
- Mating 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.
- Usually, roost in single-species camps.
- Territorial and aggressive at rich food resources.
- Forage only during the night.
- Only travel 20-30km 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.
- Approximately 194,000 animals in the total population.
In order of severity:
- 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.
- Federally listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Fascinating spectacled flying fox fact
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.
Want to know more about flying foxes? Find out fascinating facts here
Batty Boat Cruises
Batty Boat Cruises is one of Wildlife Queensland’s most successful public education initiatives. For more than 20 years, Batty Boat Cruises have introduced thousands of people every summer to the fascinating world of the flying fox, or fruit bat.
Cruises generally run between October and March.
Each cruise takes passengers up the Brisbane River for an unforgettable wildlife experience.
Listen to expert commentary about flying fox habits and other fascinating wildlife facts. Watch the landmarks slide past as you cruise at a leisurely pace through the ever-changing riverscape.
The boat pauses just before sunset at Norman Creek, summer home to breeding black, grey-headed and little red flying foxes. As the sun sinks, silhouetted flying foxes swirl into the darkening sky, snatching sips of river water before scattering to find food for themselves and their young in the flowering trees of Brisbane suburbs.
Batty Boat Cruises will be back in October 2021. Find out more about Batty Boat Cruises.
- 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.