Grey-Headed Flying Fox (bats)

Grey-Headed Flying Fox (bats)
Photo of grey-headed flying foxes in a tree
Read about our very own Grey-Headed Flying Fox Colony in Wolli Creek. Native flying foxes (bats) Read about our very own Grey-Headed Flying Fox Colony in Wolli Creek.  
Photo of grey-headed flying foxes in a tree


Did you know that we have our very own Grey-Headed Flying Fox (GHFF) Colony in Wolli Creek? These guys used to number in the millions, but now there are thought to only be 400,000 left in the wild, which isn't many compared to the 23.5 million people living in Australia! They are protected under Federal and State Legislation. GHFFs are also known as Fruit Bats, but their favourite food is actually nectar from our native trees. This makes them an important species as they are long-distance pollinators and keep all our native trees growing strong.​

What to do if you see an injured GHFF

If you see an injured GHFF, do not touch it. Contact WIRES on 13 00 094 737 or Sydney Wildlife 9413 4300 immediately. A friendly and knowledgeable volunteer will come out to rescue the animal.

​Damage to fruit trees 

If you like to grow your own fruit and vegetables, you may have noticed that your delicious yield can fall prey to the occasional bird or flying fox. Although they do prefer nectar from our native trees, they are attracted to our backyards because much of their habitat has been removed.
​If GHFFs are attracted to your garden, and you don’t have fruit to spare, it is important to use wildlife friendly netting and to secure it tightly. Loose nets with large mesh (anything over 20mm) are a danger to flying foxes - GHFFs will become tangled which can cause terrible injuries and painful deaths. If you net your trees correctly, you will successfully protect your fruit and our grey headed flying foxes.
Always use durable materials - nylon should never be used, as it causes injuries even when stretched tightly. Use white netting, with mesh size less than 20mm (always use netting that you can’t fit a finger through!) and either secure it tightly at the trunk or construct a frame at least 1 metre around the tree that nets can be tightly stretched around.
Alternatively, use brown paper bags to tie around ripening fruit. These must be changed when wet.

Noise, smell and mess

GHFFs are protected native animals and are listed as a vulnerable species in both NSW and across Australia. Flying-fox camps cannot be disturbed or relocated without prior approval from the NSW Government. ​
Although night time visits can cause a nuisance for residents, be aware that their visits are short-lived and will cease once the plant has finished fruiting or flowering (usually only a few weeks). Temporary measures, such as using car covers and taking clothes of the line at night, should be implemented whilst flying-foxes are feeding nearby.

Disease risk 

Like all wild animals, flying-foxes carry diseases but the risk of transmitting these to humans is extremely low. The NSW Government provides the following explanation about the diseases carried by flying-foxes: 
Lyssavirus is extremely rare and preventable. It is only transmitted by flying-fox saliva coming into contact with an open wound or mucus membrane such as the eyes, nose or mouth. It is not spread through droppings or urine, so you are not exposed to the virus if a flying-fox flies overhead, feeds or roosts in your garden, or if you live near a camp or visit one. 
Hendra virus outbreaks are very rare. There is no evidence that humans can catch Hendra virus directly from flying-foxes. Hendra virus may be transmitted from flying-foxes to horses and it is possible for humans to contract it from infected horses. ​

More information

To find out more about living with GHFFs, visit the Sydney Bats websites. 


For more information, contact Council's Customer Service Centre on 9707 9000
The City of Canterbury Bankstown acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land, water and skies of Canterbury-Bankstown, the Darug (Darag, Dharug, Daruk, Dharuk) People. We recognise and respect Darug cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge the First Peoples’ continuing importance to our CBCity community.