Wildlife

Flying-foxes

Flying-foxes are native to Australia and are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. There are three types of flying-foxes in Townsville:

Spectacled flying-fox (Pteropus conspicillatus)  Black flying-fox (Pteropus Alecto)  Little Red Flying Fox - Pteropus scapulatus 
Spectacled flying-fox (Pteropus conspicillatus)

Spectacled flying-foxes are found in selective camps around Townsville and are vulnerable and unique to the region.

Black flying-fox (Pteropus Alecto)

Black flying foxes are permanent residents and the largest and the most common type in this area. They stay year round, but move from camp to camp. Black flying foxes love to eat fruit, pollen and nectar.

Little red flying-fox (Pteropus scapulatus)

Little Red flying foxes are the smaller of the two and mostly eat nectar. They visit Townsville as they travel up and down the east coast of Australia, kind of like “red nomads”. They come in small or very large groups and stay for a few months when their favourite nectar trees are flowering including in the highly valued Dan Gleeson Memorial Gardens.

There are 8 permanent and at least 12 temporary flying fox camps around Townsville. Dan Gleeson Memorial Gardens and the Palmetum are known hot spots.

Frequently asked questions

Download a copy of our frequently asked questions factsheet below.

Role of Local Government

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) recognises the important role local governments continue to play in managing issues around flying-fox roosts in urban areas. Under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, local governments in Queensland have an as-of-right authority to undertake roost management at flying-fox roosts in designated Urban Flying-Fox Management Areas (UFFMAs).

Management activities are limited to non-lethal methods, and may only be undertaken in accordance with the Code of practice—Ecologically sustainable management of flying-fox roosts. The code of practice ensures acceptable welfare outcomes for flying foxes.

Outside an UFFMA, council requires a flying-fox roost management permit (FFRMP), available from Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

A non-council applicant requires a FFRMP irrespective of the location of the roost. For further information please visit the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection website.

Relevant Sections of the Legislation:

  • Nature Conservation Act 1992 - Part 5 Wildlife and habitat conservation. S.88C Restrictions relating to flying-foxes and flying-fox roosts.
  • Activities affecting the spectacled flying-fox (Pteropus conspicillatus) and grey-headed flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) may be subject to referral to the Commonwealth under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) in the event of likely significant impact.
  • All persons are authorised to undertake low impact activities at roosts in accordance with the Code of practice—Low impact activities affecting flying-fox roosts - Low impact activities include weeding, mulching, mowing or minor tree trimming. Operating outside of the code of practice is not authorised and may have legal consequences.

Townsville City Council undertakes the following roost management activities under the Code of Practice:

  • Dispersal of flying-foxes at Dan Gleeson Memorial Gardens into main flying-fox areas with the use of fogging, smoke and noise.
  • Periodic cleaning around flying-fox roost sites.
  • Dispersal of flying-foxes from Palmetum using fogging, smoke and noise.
  • Periodic cleaning of ponds / dams to provide a clean water source.

Health Concerns

The two health concerns related to flying foxes are Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV) and Hendra virus. These are easy to avoid.

  • ABLV: can be contracted from bites or scratches from flying foxes.
  • No touch means no risk.
  • IF you do touch, it means 4 needles will need to be administrated by Queensland Health
  • Hendra virus: can only be contracted from a horse that has caught it from a bat. Humans cannot catch Hendra directly from flying foxes. Regularly vaccinating horses protects both them and you from infection, and—depending on your provider—costs roughly the same as a shoeing.

If you have been bitten or scratched by a flying fox seek medical attention immediately. For more information visit the Queensland Government Viral Infections website.

Found a sick or injured bat?

  • Do not touch it. Call the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625), or North Queensland Wildlife Carer, 0414 717 374
  • ABLV is unlikely to survive on the external surface of a dead bat for more than a few hours. Dead bats can be disposed of in your general waste bin. Use a shovel and suitable gloves to minimise the risk of accidental scratches. If you are uncomfortable with this task, call council to assist.
  • Contracting any illness from a bat is rare. While ABLV and Hendra virus are the two main health concerns, bats can also carry other diseases.

For more information about bats and health, call Queensland Health on 13 HEALTH (13 432 584), go to their website.