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Pteropus alecto

Black flying fox

A black flying foxDistribution

Northern, eastern and western coastal Australia. This species also occurs in southern Papua New Guinea and Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi in Indonesia.


Short black fur covers the body and the abdominal fur is often sprinkled with white tipped hairs. A reddish brown mantle can be found on the back of the neck and sometimes animals have reddish brown eye rings. The lower leg is unfurred. Photo: J. Epstein.

A black flying fox colonyHabitat

Black flying-foxes roost in trees in groups called colonies or camps. They occupy a wide range of habitats including mangrove or paperbark swamps, tropical and sub-tropical forests and woodlands and rainforest. Camp locations are dependant on the availability of local food. Photo: J. Epstein.

A black flying fox with pulp in its' mouthDiet and Foraging

Animals prefer to forage on the blossom of Eucalypts, paperbarks and turpentines, and they may travel up to 50 km a night in search of food. Other native and introduced blossoms and fruits are also eaten including mangoes. They also eat the leaves of trees chewing them to a pulp, swallowing the juice and expelling the pulp. Fig fruits are also eaten in this manner. Photo: C. Smith.

The extended wing of a black flying foxReproduction

Mating occurs from March through to April with males defending a territory of about 1 meter of branch. A small amount of courtship, usually neck biting, occurs before copulation; females give birth from August through to November. The mother carries the pup for 1 month after which it is left in a crèche. At an age of 2-3 months the pup will follow its mother at night to forage and develop life skills. After another 3 months the pup will gain independence. Photo: J. Epstein.


Weight: Mean 710 g (Min. 467 g, Max. 930 g)
Forearm length: Mean 164 mm (Min. 147 mm, Max. 180 mm)

Source: Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Author: C. de Jong & C. Smith.


Churchill, S. (1998) Australian Bats. Reed New Holland, Sydney, pp. 82-83.

Hall, L. S. (1983) Black flying fox. In R, Strahan. (ed.). The Mammals of Australia, Reed Books, Chatswood, pp. 280-281.

Strahan, R. (1995) A Photographic Guide to Mammals of Australia, New Holland, London, p. 109.