Grey-headed Flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) Click to enlarge image
Grey-headed Flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) mother with her pup. Photographer:Vivien Jones Image: Vivien Jones
Vivien Jones

Fast Facts

  • NSW Conservation Status
    Vulnerable species
  • Classification
    Species
    poliocephalus
    Genus
    Pteropus
    Family
    Pteropodidae
    Order
    Chiroptera
    Subclass
    Eutheria
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    23-28 cm

Introduction

The Grey-headed Flying-fox is one of the largest bats in Australia with a wingspan of over 1 m.

Identification

The Grey-headed Flying-fox is mostly dark brown, except for a grey head and orange-red mantle encircling the neck.

Habitat

The Grey-headed Flying-fox urban areas, forests and woodlands, intertidal mangroves.

Distribution

The Grey-headed Flying-fox is found in eastern Australia, including Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

Feeding and diet

At night the Grey-headed Flying-fox searches for food and may travel 50 km to its feeding areas. It eats fruit from a range of native and introduced species, particularly figs, and for this reason it is sometimes called 'Fruit Bat'. It also feeds on nectar and pollen from native trees, especially gum trees.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The Grey-headed Flying-fox spends much of its time hanging from the branches of trees in forests or mangroves. Groups known as 'camps' can be made up of many thousands of animals.

Life history cycle

The young Grey-headed Flying-foxs are usually born in September to October and are carried by the mother for the first three weeks, clinging to her teat with their special curved milk teeth and gripping her fur with their strong claws. As they grow larger and become too heavy to carry on feeding expeditions, they are left behind in special 'creches' in the maternity camp. After about three months the young are able to fly and by five to six months of age they begin to feed independently.

Conversation status

Although they appear in large groups, numbers of Grey-headed Flying Foxes are declining because of habitat clearing. These bats are important to healthy forest ecosystems because they pollinate and disperse the seeds of many important tree species.