Living near flying foxes | Redland City Council

Living near flying foxes

Close up image of a grey head flying fox in a tree


Flying-foxes play a critical environmental role, dispersing seeds and pollinating our eucalypt forests over often fragmented country. They are a highly mobile species that travel long distances across the regional and national landscape. Council recognises their importance and has adopted the Redlands Coast Flying-fox Roost Management Plan.

Flying-foxes are the world’s largest flying mammal and roost communally during the day in camps or colonies, often near water bodies and wetlands. They leave the roost at night independently of each other and forage on an individual basis. Roosts provide important resting, refuge and breeding sites for these social little mammals.

Redlands Coast Flying-fox Plan 2022-2032

Council has developed the Redlands Coast Flying-fox Roost Management Plan by partnering with leading experts from Ecosure and through consultation with the community. This plan was partly funded by the Department of Environment and Science Flying-Fox Roost Management - Local Government Grants Program.

The Redlands Coast Flying-fox Plan provides a framework to support communities living with flying-foxes while protecting flying-foxes and the critical ecosystem services they provide. In doing so it will support achieving Council's goals and operational plans for strong communities, liveable neighbourhoods and protecting the natural environment.

To view the plan and its details click on the liniks below:

Which flying-foxes visit Redlands Coast?

There are three species of flying-foxes that can be found on Redlands Coast – the Grey-headed Flying-fox, the Black Flying-fox and the Little Red Flying-fox. Both the Grey-headed and the Black Flying-fox can usually be found on Redlands Coast throughout the year. The Little Red Flying-fox is an occasional visitor that will arrive in significant numbers when the seasonal flowering is abundant.

Flying-fox numbers increase temporarily during the winter months when large numbers of Grey-headed Flying-foxes arrive from across the country to take advantage of the seasonal flowering on Moreton, North Stradbroke and the Southern Moreton Bay Islands.

The Little Red Flying-foxes may arrive in large numbers from January to April. They are highly nomadic and follow the flowering of eucalypts down the eastern seaboard.

Useful tips for living near flying-foxes

  • Don’t leave your washing out at night – bring it in before dusk.
  • Garage or cover your vehicles.
  • Use a pool cover.
  • Cover or bring any outdoor furniture under shelter at night.
  • Try not to disturb them – this will only make them noisier and heighten the odour.

What you should know

  • Flying -foxes are not specific to a local government area, but rather, are part of a national population.
  • The size and length of occupancy of these roosts is determined by the availability of suitable food resources, seasonal conditions and behavioural influences. Roost locations are generally within 20-30kms of flowering events.
  • One flying-fox was tracked over 12,337km. During that time it travelled between 123 roosts and covered 37 local government areas, 30 state electorates and 21 federal electorates.
  • Seasonal flowering events are unpredictable and influences their presence in an area.
  • They change roost on a regular basis and have a strong allegiance to specific roosts, returning to them whenever they are in the area. These sites vary with different individuals.
  • Flying-fox roosts are like a backpacker’s hostel, always full but with different individuals.
  • The arrival of new individuals at a roost can lead to increased noise as they shuffle for position.
  • Flying-fox change roosts on a regular basis.
  • Dispersing a roost does not change the number of flying-foxes feeding in an area.
  • Remove any barbed wire fencing on your property if possible or make extremely visiable for nocturnal animals by placing reflective tags along the top wire.

What is Council doing?

  • Developed the Redlands Coast Flying-fox Roost Management Plan and associated Roost Detail, alongside the Statement of Management Intent to provide a strategic framework for the management and protection of flying-foxes throughout the Redlands Coast.
  • Monthly monitoring of Redlands Coast roosts and participating in the CSIRO National Flying-fox Monitoring Program.
  • Undertaking roost management at key sites.
  • Providing advice and facts to residents about flying-fox behaviour, current research and solutions on living near flying-foxes.
  • Partnering with trained and experienced community groups and volunteers to care for sick, injured and orphaned flying-foxes.

Flying-fox FAQs

What about disease? Can I catch Hendra Virus from a flying-fox?

People cannot catch the Hendra Virus from flying-foxes. People can only contact the Hendra Virus from coming into close contact with an infected horse.

I have heard that flying-foxes carry rabies. Is this true and can I catch it?

Flying-foxes do not have rabies. Only a very small percentage of flying-foxes (less than 1%) are infected with a disease called Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV) which is similar, but not the same, as rabies. This virus can only be transmitted to humans by bites, scratches or saliva into an open wound from an infected bat. If you do not pick up or handle flying-foxes, you have nothing to fear. 

Neither you nor your pets can get ABLV (Lyssavirus) from flying-foxes flying overhead, roosting or feeding in your yard or touching their droppings.

What about their droppings?

Exposure to bat faeces or urine does not pose a risk of catching ABLV. Bat droppings should be treated with the same hygiene as you would with any other animal. 

What is that smell?

Many people mistakenly believe that the odour from a flying-fox roost is from their droppings. The smell is actually from the male’s scent glands which, just like in koalas and possums, are used to mark their territories. This ‘scent’ is heightened during breeding season and when they are disturbed and pushed onto someone else’s branch or when newcomers arrive in the roost.

Smell also plays an important role in flying-fox communication.

What do I do if I find a flying-fox on the ground or a sick one in my tree?

Call the Redlands 24hr Wildlife Rescue on (07) 3833 4031, they will oganise for a vaccinated carer to attend to the animal. Never attempt to rescue or handle injured flying-foxes.

What do I do if I get bitten or scratched by a bat?

Seek medical assistance immediately.

What do I do If I get flying-fox droppings on my car? Will it strip the paint work?

Bird droppings are actually more corrosive than flying-fox faeces. To remove flying-fox droppings, it is recommended to cover the stain with a wet cloth or newspaper and leave it to soak for about ½ an hour, and then simply wipe it away. Do not leave droppings on the car to ‘bake’ in the sun.

How do I know if there are Little Red Flying-foxes in my area?

Little Red Flying-foxes arrive on Redlands Coast in large numbers between January and April. They can be distinguished from other flying-foxes by their small size and roosting habitats. They clump together in large groups and are noisier than other flying-foxes as they are continually squabbling for a position on the branch.

Each night Little Red Flying-foxes leave their roost together, spreading across the sky like a large conga line. It is a spectacular sight to see and well worth making the time to watch.

How do I protect my home garden from flying-foxes?

Due to the loss of natural food resources throughout our environment, flying-foxes are becoming increasingly dependent upon the flowering and fruiting trees in backyard gardens.

Many people use netting to protect their trees from nocturnal feeders, but if you use the wrong type of netting, it can be deadly to wildlife.

When animals are caught in netting, and struggle to free themselves, the net tightens and restricts blood flow to limbs. Netting also causes mortal injuries to mouths and faces as they try to “chew” their way out. If nets are not checked daily, this can result in a slow, cruel death.

By using the correct type of netting you can eliminate the risk to wildlife and protect your fruit.

How do I know which netting is wildlife friendly? 

Use fine mesh netting that you can’t fit your pinky finger through. Hailguard, Fruitsaver and Vege net are good examples of wildlife friendly netting.

You can also protect your fruit by recycling objects from around your home. Try using a small pot, cut off milk carton or fruit protection bag, this way you can keep some of your fruit and share the rest with the wildlife.

For more information on wildlife friendly netting, products and installation please follow these links: