There are four types of flying foxes which are native to mainland Australia; black, grey-headed, little red and spectacled flying foxes. They are fruit-eating flying mammals, similar to bats, which live in large colonies or camps, often in close proximity to people. This can cause several conflicts between humans and flying foxes. For the humans, flying foxes can generate both noise and smell, and for the flying foxes, car collisions, power lines and the use of fruit tree netting and barbed wire can have serious consequences.
Flying foxes play an important ecological role in dispersing the pollen and fruit of many native trees. They can sometimes fly up to 100km in a night so they play an important role in the conservation of many forest species. Unfortunately, flying foxes are threatened and in decline in many areas due to long-term habitat destruction. To conserve them we need to tolerate their presence and protect their habitat better.
Flying foxes can carry disease but they are not a health risk to you unless you are bitten or scratched by them. If you come across a sick or injured flying fox or any bat, it is essential that you DO NOT HANDLE THE ANIMAL but instead, report it by contacting your local RSPCA or wildlife care group. They will be able to notify someone who is trained to handle flying foxes.
More information on flying foxes can be found on the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage website and in the brochure Living with Flying Foxes
You can also find out more about the biology and behaviour of flying foxes on the RSPCA educational website, World of Animal Welfare.