Grey-headed Flying-foxes in Adelaide

Roosting in Botanic Park or flying across the city skyline, you might have noticed Adelaide’s Grey-headed Flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus). These flying-foxes, also known as fruit bats, have not always been residents of Adelaide. They arrived here in 2010, setting up a colony in the Adelaide Park Lands and can often be seen flying in the city and suburban skies at dusk and at dawn.

The Grey-headed Flying-fox is a relatively new resident of Adelaide; some even refer to them as refugees as they moved to South Australia in response to food shortages in their natural range on Australia’s east coast.

A highly intelligent, social and caring mammal, the Grey-headed Flying-fox is a keystone species, meaning many plants rely on them to spread pollen and seeds. They are also a nationally-threatened species. Please find more information in our Activity Booklet.

Don't be scared of bats

People’s fear of bats, they don’t deserve their bad reputation, which is largely built on myths and their association with vampires. It is true that some bats can carry disease, but as with all animals in the wild, it’s best to follow the age-old rule of ‘look but don't touch’. Experts say the Grey-headed Flying-fox is never aggressive, so you don’t need to worry about being attacked.

With more than 20,000 Grey-headed Flying-foxes arriving in Adelaide since 2010, it looks like they are here to stay. If you're around Botanic Park at dusk, look up and you might see these wonderful creatures in flight.

If you find a bat in distress

Grey-headed Flying-foxes and other bats inhabit the Park Lands and adjacent streets and are particularly common in Botanic Park and the Botanic Gardens. Unfortunately, Grey-headed Flying-foxes struggle with extreme heat, which makes this protected and threatened species vulnerable during heatwaves.

When temperatures reach 38°C they begin to seek shade and move closer to the river. When temperatures get even hotter the risk of mortality becomes high and perished bats may be found on pathways and grassed areas frequented by people. This includes the lower banks and trees of the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari as they swoop down to keep cool and drink from the river.

Read here for tips on how to keep yourself and the bats safe if you are around the River Torrens during periods of extreme heat.

As the bats are wild animals, and possibly carrying disease, it is important to remember that they should never be handled. If you happen to come across one on the ground, please contact:

  • the City of Adelaide Park Lands Ranger on 0407 394 662 or 
  • our Customer Centre on 8203 7203 or
  • Fauna Rescue’s dedicated Flying Fox helpline on 0475 132 093.

This will enable an appropriately immunised person to collect the bat and keep our Park Lands safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Thank you to our partners for their support: Department of Health, Department of Environment and Water, South Australian Museum, University of Adelaide, Zoos South Australia, Fauna Rescue of SA Inc, and the Botanic Gardens of South Australia.