Scientific Name: Pteropus conspicillatus
Spectacled flying-foxes are easy to recognise by the yellow fur that forms circles around their eyes. In Australia, they are the only one of the twelve different species of large bat (or "megabat") to rely on the rainforest for their survival. However, the rainforest also needs the flying-foxes for its survival. As they move through the forest, the flying-foxes play an important role in spreading the seeds of different trees.
WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE? These flying-foxes have dark brown to black fur, with yellow-orange eye rings and neck scruff. The scruff can also be silver. The legs have fur down to the knees. The arms have four long fingers and a thumb covered in thin, stretchy skin that forms wings, and joins to the ankles. The thumb works like a hook for climbing along branches.
SIZE: The head and body of an adult is 22–24 centimetres long.
WHAT DO THEY EAT? They lick nectar and pollen from eucalypts and other flowers, but feed mainly on the fruit of certain rainforest trees. Because they fly at night and find their food by smell and sight, they usually suck on light-coloured fruit that is easier to find in the dark.
FEEDING BEHAVIOUR: When feeding, the spectacled flying-fox always hangs upside down.
WHERE DO THEY LIVE? By day these bats roost in large colonies, called "camps", in north Queensland rainforests, mangroves and paperbark swamps. They tend to live no further than 6 kilometres from the closest rainforest.
BREEDING & CARING FOR YOUNG: A female gives birth to one fully furred baby with its eyes already open. The baby clings to its mother’s fur with its sharp claws and latches onto one of the teats under each wing-pit with its tiny milk teeth. Even though young flying-foxes can fly at about two months of age, they are left in the colony and cared for until they are about five months old.
PREDATORS & THREATS: Flying-foxes are eaten by large pythons, owls and even crocodiles. The main threat to their survival is from clearing of their rainforest habitat to make room for human development and farms. Flying-foxes love fruit, and the farms that replace their natural habitat grow tasty tropical fruit like bananas, lychees, and mangoes. Many bats are hunted, electrocuted or poisoned because they eat these fruit crops.
WHAT IS THEIR STATUS? Vulnerable.
A Flying-fox colony
Extracted from Fact File: Australian Mammals
© Steve Parish Publishing