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Living with flying foxes

The grey-headed flying-fox is considered to exist as a single national population and there are three roosts on the Sunshine Coast which are identified as important to the national population.

Living with flying foxes

Council understands how difficult it can be living near flying-fox roosts in urban areas, and we have a long term aim to entice Flying-foxes to a more suitable home. We conduct research to better understand how they choose their roost sites and are rehabilitating more appropriate reserves with trees they like to live in and food they like to eat.

Top tips for living with these noisy neighbours

  • Bring your washing in at night
  • Park your cars under shelter
  • Keep doors and windows closed at dawn and dusk to reduce impacts during fly-in and fly-out
  • Double glaze windows and insulate your house to minimise the noise experience
  • Remove or cover fruit and flowers on fruiting and flowering trees on your property
  • Keep dogs and cats inside at night and away from roost sites. Keep their food and water indoor
  • Move quietly near roost sites to avoid disturbance, they make more noise when disturbed.

Visit Little Aussie Battler for more tips on living with flying-foxes.

Council understands how difficult it can be living near flying-fox roosts in urban areas, and we have a long term aim to entice flying-foxes to a more suitable home. We conduct research to better understand how they choose their roost sites and are rehabilitating more appropriate reserves with trees they like to live in and food they like to eat.

Never touch a sick or injured flying-fox

Help injured bats by avoiding contact and calling trained and vaccinated wildlife rescue professionals on 1300 ANIMAL (264 625).

Two important times in a flying-fox life

Flying-foxes are wild, seasonal animals that come and go from roost sites all across the Sunshine Coast and Australia.

Frequently asked questions about flying-foxes

Are flying-foxes native to Australia?

There are 4 species of flying-fox native to mainland Australia. 3 of those 4 species, the little red flying-fox, the black flying-fox, and the grey headed flying-fox frequent South East Queensland. The grey headed flying-fox is Australia’s only endemic flying-fox and is federally-listed as vulnerable to extinction under the EPBC Act.

Why are flying-foxes important?

Flying-foxes play an important role in maintaining Australian native forest ecosystems. As Australia’s only known long distance pollinator, flying-foxes are critical for the continued existence of many Australian eucalypt species that can only be pollinated at night. Flying-foxes fly out from their roost sites at sunset and move around the region at night searching for food. They return to a central roost just before sunrise and rest there throughout the day. If you see or hear flying-foxes in trees near your home at night, it's more than likely they are only there temporarily to feed.

There are flying-foxes in trees nearby our house at night. Does this mean there is a roost establishing near my home?

Flying-foxes are nocturnal animals that fly out from their roost sites at sunset and move around the region at night searching for food. They return to a central roost just before sunrise and rest there throughout the day. So if you see or hear flying-foxes in trees near your home at night, it's more than likely they’re only there temporarily to feed.

Research has shown that flying-foxes move all across the east coast of Australia stopping off at different roost sites every day while they search for food and mates. Flying-foxes are highly nomadic and generally travel between 1,400 and 6,000 kilometres a year, however one tracked grey headed flying-fox travelled over 12,000 kilometres in one year, moving between Melbourne and central Queensland.

Are flying-fox numbers increasing?

No. Overall flying-fox numbers have declined in the last century due to widespread clearing of native foraging and roosting habitat for agriculture and urban development, and culling practices across their range. These losses have accumulated to approximately two-thirds of south east Queensland’s native vegetation, with an almost 90% reduction of Melaleuca quinquenervia (broad-leaf paperbark) forests, which are the primary source of winter food for nectar-feeding flying-foxes.

Flying-foxes are highly nomadic species that move thousands of kilometres across Australia in search of food. Localised events such as bushfires, droughts, food shortage or food abundance will greatly influence flying-fox numbers and may lead to short-term influxes at suitable locations. This does not mean that they will remain in those numbers long-term.

2 flying-fox species; the grey headed and spectacled flying-foxes, are federally-listed threatened species. The grey headed is listed as vulnerable to extinction, while the spectacled is listed as endangered under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The reduction in habitat has forced flying-foxes to find other habitats, including patches of bushland in urban areas. Flying-foxes have highly complex social structures and communicate knowledge of feeding and roosting sites across groups and even generations. Therefore, their choice of urban roosting sites may be linked to historic connections with the site prior to development and is also influenced by available water and food within the urban landscape and backyard plantings.

This has led to increased contact and conflict with humans. Where large roosts occur close to residential areas, the potential for conflict increases as the noise and odour associated with their daily interactions may disrupt the lifestyle of nearby residents.

Council routinely monitors urban roost sites, the results are shown on the interactive BatMap.

Does council have a plan to manage flying-foxes?

Yes, our regional flying-fox management plan is available on this website. The plan is approved by the state government as a regional flying-fox management plan, and the Australian Government as a conservation agreement for grey headed flying-fox.

What do I do if I find an injured flying-fox?

Help injured bats by avoiding contact and calling trained and vaccinated wildlife rescue professionals on 1300 ANIMAL (264 625).