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Grey-headed flying foxes

Grey-headed flying foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 and play an important role in helping conserve our many native plant species by dispersing native seeds and pollen.

Grey-headed flying foxes have been visiting South Australia for decades, but it wasn't until 2010 that they established a campsite in Adelaide. This movement is thought to be due to a combination of factors including habitat loss, competition for food resources and the effects of climate change across their natural range in the eastern states.

Flying foxes typically travel about 20 km from their camp each night in search of food, so you may occasionally find them foraging on your property. While they can be noisy and messy, their visits are usually transient as they will move on once their food supply has been diminished.

Flying foxes do sometimes travel more than 20 km from their camp in search of other food sources. It’s not unusual for flying foxes to sleep away from the camp when making these longer exploratory trips, however if flying foxes are sleeping on your property during the day for several days in a row, please email as we are always interested in these observations and potential changes in their movements.

More information on Grey-headed flying foxes in South Australia is available on Green Adelaide's webpage.

Disease risk to humans

Some flying foxes carry diseases, including Australian bat lyssavirus and the Hendra virus. Flying foxes pose no human health risks unless a person is bitten or scratched, so it is very important that you never handle them (or any other species of bat), including injured or dead bats, unless you have been vaccinated against the Australian bat lyssavirus.

A human contracting Australian bat lyssavirus is extremely rare and preventable. It is only transmitted by flying fox saliva coming into contact with an open wound or mucus membrane such as the eyes, nose or mouth. It is not spread through droppings or urine, so people are not exposed to the virus if a flying fox flies overhead, feeds or roosts in their garden, or if they live near a camp or visit one.

Hendra virus outbreaks are also very rare. There is no evidence that humans can catch the virus directly from flying foxes. Hendra virus may be transmitted from flying foxes to horses and it is possible for humans to contract it from infected horses. There have been no cases of Hendra virus in South Australia.

If you find an injured or dead flying fox, please contact a wildlife rescue organisation or the RSPCA. Do not attempt to remove it yourself.

If you are bitten or scratched by a flying fox, wash the site immediately with plenty of soap and water and seek medical attention straight away.