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Flying Foxes

Flying-foxes are flying foresters pollinating forest flowers and dispersing seeds as they forage for food. While they play an essential role keeping the ecosystems healthy, living near these native animals can be challenging.

What is Council Doing?

The survival of flying-foxes depends on human ability to live with them. Council aims to find a balance between managing flying-foxes in urban areas and protecting their future through education and research.

In late 2013, the Queensland State Government devolved an 'as-of-right' authority for local government to manage flying-fox roosts in defined urban areas.  This is not a legal requirement of Councils, however Council recognises the need to manage impacts to the community associated with flying-fox roosts, while ensuring the conservation of these ecologically critical species.

Camps or roosts can be on private, government or Council land.  Council's only have authority to take action on their land.  Management of flying-fox roosts outside the defined urban area require a flying-fox roost management permit from the State Government, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

Logan City Council has developed a Statement of Management Intent   (PDF 6571 KB)(SoMI), in accordance with the Queensland Government's Code of Practice - Ecologically Sustainable Management of Flying-fox Roosts (PDF 83 KB), for managing flying-foxes in defined urban areas.  This SoMI articulates Council's intent for both existing and new roosts to the community.

Logan City Council, in conjunction with experienced flying-fox management consultants, has also developed a Flying-fox Management Strategy 2015-2018 (PDF 722 KB).

This Strategy aims to provide a safe environment for the community where risks associated with flying-fox roosts are appropriately managed and amenity impacts are reduced as much as possible, whilst conserving flying-foxes and the critical ecological role they play across the City of Logan.

Any and all actions Council undertakes will be in accordance with the Code of Practice - Ecologically Sustainable Management of Flying-fox roosts and be guided by the Queensland Government's Flying-fox Roost Management Guidelines (PDF 705 KB).

All flying-foxes and native wildlife are protected by the Queensland Government under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Report sick or injured flying-foxes to RSPCA's 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) or your local wildlife carer (Bat Conservation & Rescue Queensland) on 0488 228 134, or illegal dispersements to Department of Environment and Heritage Protection on 1300 130 372.

Contact Logan City Council on 07 3412 3412 should you wish to know more information, or report a new roost in Logan city.

Flying-foxes in Logan

Flying up to 100 kilometres in a night, there are three species of flying-fox which frequently visit Logan.

There are more than 90 species of bats living in Australia.  They are mammals that belong to a group called Chiroptera, which means 'hand-wing'.

There are two types of bats: micro-bats and mega-bats.  Micro-bats are smaller bats that eat mostly insects and rely on echolocation.  Mega-bats are the larger fruit and flower eating bats you see hanging upside down in trees or flying overhead at dusk.  They are commonly known as fruit bats or, due to their fox-like faces, flying-foxes.

Four species of flying-fox are native to mainland Australia.  Three of these: the grey-headed flying-fox, black flying-fox and the little red flying-fox can be found in Logan.  The fourth, the spectacled flying-fox, primarily lives in northern Queensland.

Flying-foxes are a protected native Australian species under Queensland's Nature Conservation Act 1992.

  • Grey-headed flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) are one of the largest bats in the world!  They can be recognised by the grey fur on their heads and the orange-brown furry collar that goes all the way around its neck.  They like to live in wet and dry eucalypt forests, mangroves, paper-bark swamps and casuarinas, often sharing camps with the black flying-fox.  Grey-headed flying-foxes are listed nationally 'vulnerable to extinction' under Federal legislation.
  • Black flying-foxes (P. alecto) have jet black fur, but can sometimes have a chocolate-brown patch of fur on the back of their neck and shoulders.  This species likes to form permanent camps and live in similar habitat to the grey-headed flying-fox.
  • Little red flying-foxes (P. scapulatus) are the smallest of the flying-foxes.  This reddish-brown species move seasonally from Western Australia via Cairns to Brisbane and all the way to South Australia, following the patterns of flowering eucalypts and paperbarks. They like to share camps with the black and grey-headed but only form temporary camps and don't tend to stay too long. In Logan you'll most likely see Little Reds over the summer period, and often see them roost in trees in clusters, like peas in a pod or like a bunch of bananas.

Grey-headed Flying-fox Black Flying-fox Little Red Flying-fox

Fact sheets

Flying-foxes are long distance flying foresters

In addition to other pollinators such as birds, bees and moths, forests are dependent on flying-foxes as they pollinate forest flowers and scatter seeds in their search for food.  Just as humans are settling down for the evening, the bat nightshift begins!

Flying-foxes have excellent vision and smell which helps them navigate their way over vast landscapes.  Pollen is collected on the fur of bats while feeding on the nectar of flowers.  Sticking to the head and neck area, they are then able to pollinate many trees over long distances. Bats also create new forests by dispersing seeds from the fruit they eat.  They can spit the seeds out some distance away from the parent tree.  They may also drop the seeds in flight or excrete small seeds while eating in the tree.

Travelling much further than birds and bees, flying-foxes can travel 100 kilometres in their search for food!  Eucalypts, Melaleuca, Banksia, tea-trees, grevilleas, figs and lilly pillys are their favoured food plants.  Flying-foxes will also forage in gardens, parks and orchards if native food is in short supply. Using their big eyes and noses, flying-foxes see, smell and find food in the dark.

Flying-foxes are the largest flying mammal and are a key species in keeping our ecosystems in good health, pollinating forest flowers and dispersing seeds as they forage to create new forests.  Food availability often influences where flying-foxes migrate to.  Urban encroachment, land clearing, agriculture and drought amongst others, may influence flying-foxes seeking alternative habitat such as patches of bushland in urban areas.

If you have fruit trees in your backyard and want to protect your fruit without harming wildlife, there are a few things you can do.  Using any type of 'wildlife friendly fruit netting', paper bags or flower pots over fruit for example, are ways to help protect the fruit, allowing it to ripen yet not entangle flying-foxes, birds and other animals.  Small aperture netting is safer for wildlife.

The Department of Environment and Heritage protection provides more information on netting backyard fruit trees.

Alternatively, wildlife-friendly backyard fruit netting shows three different styles of netting and provides additional ideas you can try, whilst highlighting the dangers of discarded netting.

Why not check out Council's wildlife-friendly backyards for more things you could be doing to encourage wildlife in your backyard!

Living with flying-foxes

If you live near flying-foxes, you may be concerned about risks to your health and are curious to know more about them, and what you can do.

Flying-foxes roost in large numbers at a 'camp or roost' during the day where they spend most of the day grooming and sleeping.  Roosts are important social points, providing shelter, social interactions and a place to raise young.  These complex and social creatures can be particularly noisy when heading out for the evening or returning from feeding.  With over 20 vocalisations, they could be calling out to find their young, squabbling over a branch, a male marking their territory during the breeding season, telling each other about their day or where the next best roost is.

If you, a family member or friend live near flying-foxes, there are few things you may wish to try to alleviate discomfort and human-wildlife interaction, such as:

  • Bring in washing overnight or drape old sheets over the clothesline.
  • Soak items that have stains in a good stain remover, preferably while still wet.
  • Cover or park cars undercover before dawn and dusk.
  • Move pet (including horse) food and water bowls under shelter/cover away from roost trees.
  • Teaching children to always wash their hands with soap and water after playing outside, as a matter of good hygiene. Also a good idea is to bring children's toys inside or store them undercover before dusk, to avoid them being soiled.
  • Plant roost trees away from your house and trim some branches to make it less attractive to flying-foxes.  Removing the weed cocos palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) or removing the fruit will also discourage flying-foxes from feeding in your yard.
  • Create low, thick trees and bushes around fence lines to form barriers where flying foxes are likely to roost.
  • Net (using wildlife-friendly netting) on fruit trees, or bagging individual clumps of fruit with brown paper bags, hessian bags or similar has also proven successful.
  • Install double glazed windows, insulation and/or air-conditioning which can help reduce noise and smell.
  • Avoid disturbing roosts. When flying-foxes are frightened or stressed, they make a lot more noise. Quiet flying-fox colonies are those generally not disturbed by people.
  • Where rainwater is collected for drinking purposes, it is recommended that first flush diverters are installed to discard contaminants prior to clean water being collected in the tank. Inlets and outlets on rainwater tanks should also be screened and the tank covered.

Flying foxes are generally susceptible to disturbance from loud sharp sudden sounds.  When they have young and are suddenly disturbed they can drop their young, often killing them.

Did you know?

  • Flying-foxes cannot transfer disease to humans when they fly overhead, roost or feed in garden trees.
  • Are not in plague proportions, with females only having one pup each year.
  • Are very clean animals and constantly groom themselves - their earthy, musky smell is used to communicate with each other.

Vegetation management - What can residents do?

The State Government advises that flying-fox camps and roosts are the responsibility of the land owner upon which the camp is located.

Where a flying-fox roost is located on private property, residents are permitted to undertake 'low impact' works in accordance with the Queensland Government's Code of Practice – Low Impact Activities (PDF 78 KB).  Low impact activities include usual maintenance activities of weeding, mulching, mowing and minor tree trimming, where the intention is not to disturb, destroy or drive-away a flying-fox.  The Code of Practice – Low Impact Activities further details how and when these things may be undertaken.

Should a landholder wish to undertake any action on their property where a flying-fox roost is located (other than that listed in the Code of Practice – low impact activities), a flying-fox roost management permit must be sought from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

Flying-fox roosts on private property are the landowners' responsibility.  Operating outside of the Code of Practice is not authorised and may have legal consequences.  Contact the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) (1300 130 372) or refer to their website for more information.  Any attempt by a person to manage or disperse a flying-fox roost requires a flying-fox roost management permit, available from DEHP.

Health

Just like any other animal, flying-foxes can carry bacteria and viruses which can be harmful to humans. Learn about facts and myths here.

Queensland Health advises that there is little to no risk to the community for people living near flying-foxes to catch disease providing that no handling or direct contact occurs.  Although flying-foxes can carry Hendra Virus and Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL) the likelihood of getting a virus from a flying-fox is very unlikely.  A vaccine is available which, if administered immediately following a bite or scratch, can prevent the virus from developing.  They further advise, out of precaution, that those individuals with compromised immune systems, who would likely be susceptible to disease risk, take particular care with washing fruit or vegetables and only drink effectively treated water.  This will reduce likelihood of developing gastroenteritis from consuming food or water contaminated with bacteria.

Just like wild animals such as snakes, people should not touch or handle flying-foxes.

Flying-foxes may host Hendra virus, which can be transferred to horses.  People in close contact with an infected horse may be at risk of Hendra virus, but there is no evidence the virus can be transferred to people directly from bats.

Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL) occurs in a very small proportion of the flying-fox population, and is only known to be transferred through a bite or scratch.  It is most easily prevented by not touching a bat unless you are vaccinated.  Anyone bitten or scratched must contact a doctor or hospital immediately for effective post-exposure treatment.

Report sick or injured flying-foxes to RSPCA's 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) or your local wildlife carer (Bat Conservation & Rescue Queensland) on 0488 228 134, or the Department of Environment & Heritage Protection on 1300 130 372.

Please refer to the Queensland Health and Biosecurity Queensland websites for up-to-date advice about human and livestock health (including horse owners).  Contact Queensland Health Hotline on 13 Health (132584) if you have concerns about possible exposure of people to Hendra virus.

Sick or Injured flying-foxes

Council does not recommend handling or touching sick or injured flying-foxes, but if you find one sick, injured or dead, here's what you can do.
Flying-foxes like other animals can suffer from heat stress. Flying-foxes exposed to high temperatures around 37-38 °C can lead to heat stress and death from dehydration.

Report sick or injured flying-foxes to RSPCA's 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) or your local wildlife carer (Bat Conservation and Rescue Queensland) on 0488 228 134, or the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection on 1300 130 372.

If you are bitten or scratched

  • If you are bitten or scratched, wash the wound carefully with soap and water for at least five minutes.
  • Do not scrub the wound, but wash it thoroughly.
  • Proper cleansing of the wound is the single most effective measure for reducing transmission of Lyssavirus.  If you can, apply an antiseptic (iodine or ethanol alcohol based) and cover the wound.
  • Contact your doctor immediately (even if you are already vaccinated) who will then likely contact the local Queensland Health Public Health Unit to arrange appropriate treatment that may include vaccination or booster vaccination.
  • If you get bat blood or saliva in your eyes, nose or mouth, you should flush the area thoroughly with water and seek immediate medical advice.

In addition, as with any animal bite or cut, you should check your tetanus vaccination status to see if you need a booster.

Any dead flying-foxes which are banded should be reported to the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme.  If you find a banded flying-fox, do not attempt to read or remove the band yourself. Instead, call RSPCA'S 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) or Bat Conservation & Rescue Queensland on 0488 228 134.

Want to know more about flying-foxes?

Bat Conservation and Rescue Queensland produced this free educational Ibook which was supported through Logan City Council's EnviroGrants and Redland City Council: Living with Bats - Your Questions Answered

This Science-Alert link, in animation form, provides easy-to-understand information about bats and flying-foxes health and environmental pressures.

No me, no Tree: Tim Pearson at TEDx Canberra
Informative, educational and entertaining presentation and talk on flying-foxes 'No me, no tree' and bats in general.

Government

Australian Government Department of the Environment: for information on the national flying-fox monitoring program and other information.

Visit the Queensland Government Department of Environment & Heritage Protection for more information on living and working near flying-foxes and/or their protection, ecology, biology, netting backyard fruit trees and/or flying-fox roost management or call 13 74 68.

Queensland Health: provides useful information on bats and human health - Australian bat lyssavirus (ABL) and Hendra virus.

For information on Hendra virus, particularly for horse owners, visit the Queensland Government's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

To notify of a suspected Hendra virus case contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 (during business hours) or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888) (24-hours).

Contact the Queensland Health Hotline on 13 HEALTH (432584) if you have concerns about possible exposure of people to Hendra virus.

The Australian Museum has information on over 90 species of bat and where they can be found.

Non-Government Organisations

All About Bats of Southern Queensland has flying-fox educational kits (years 4 through to 9) and further detailed information on flying-foxes and microbats.

Australasian Bat Society produces regular and substantial newsletters.

Bat Conservation and Rescue QLD Inc. undertake rescues within the greater Brisbane area, provide informative education at community events, and talks to the general public on both flying-foxes and microbats and details on how you can get involved.

Bat Conservation International provides information, research and initiatives across the globe on all things bat.

Wildlife-friendly fencing and netting raises awareness of the impact of fencing on Australian wildlife, and helps landowners develop guidelines for good practice.

Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland (WPSQ) provides information relevant to Queenslanders on the four megabats (flying-foxes) in Australia.