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Pteropus scapulatus

Little red flying fox


The species occurs in northern, western and eastern Australia and ranges long distances inland. Pteropus scapulatus is nomadic and will follow food resources. As a result, regional populations will vary greatly between years.

A little red flying foxDescription

Reddish brown fur covers the entire body and the hind limbs are sparsely furred or naked. A grey patch can often be found on the head. The wings are reddish-brown and are translucent in flight. Pteropus scapulatus is one of the smallest of the Pteropus species. Photo: S. Churchill.


During the day, groups of up to 1 million animals roost in a broad range of habitats including Eucalypt forests, paperbark swamps, mangroves and bamboo thickets. Pteropus scapulatus camps are more temporary than other species, as they are reliant on flowering blossom.

A flyout of little reds from their colony at duskDiet and Foraging

The species feeds primarily on the nectar and pollen of Eucalypt blossoms. Pteropus scapulatus is a key species in the dispersal of pollen and seeds and their feeding activity maintains the health and diversity of the forest ecosystem. Fruit, growing shoots, bark, sap and insects also contribute to their diet. Photo: in Birt (1998).

A little red flying foxReproduction

Mating occurs from November to January; 6 months out of phase with other Pteropus species. Males will actively defend a harem of 2 to 5 females from other males. Gestation takes approximately 5 months; births occur from April through to May. Females suckle their young and carry them during flight for one month after which young are left at the roost while she forages at night. At 2 months, young will move and fly around between the trees within the camp. Photo: Hall in Richards (1983).


Weight: Mean 442 g (Min. 280 g, Max. 530 g)
Forearm length: Mean 138 mm (Min. 129 mm, Max. 146mm)

Source: Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Author: C. de Jong & C. Smith.


Birt, P., Markus, N., Collins, L. & Hall, L. (1998) Nature Australia, Spring, pp. 55-59.

Churchill, S. (1998) Australian Bats, Reed New Holland, Sydney, pp. 92-93.

Richards, G. C. (1983) Little red flying-fox. In R. Strahan (ed.). The Mammals of Australia, Reed Books, Chatswood, pp. 277-279.

Strahan, R. (1995) A Photographic Guide to Mammals of Australia, New Holland, London, p. 110.