Health notice: There is currently no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19) or similar virus in Australian wildlife. For further information on SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 and Australian wildlife please refer to the Wildlife Health Australia factsheet. For further information on COVID-19, please refer to NSW Health

Flying-foxes, a type of megabat, are nomadic mammals that travel across large areas and feed on native blossoms and fruits.

They play an important role in spreading seeds and pollinating native plants. 

Grey-headed Flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)

Of the three species commonly found New South Wales, only the Grey-headed Flying fox is native to Australia.  

The grey-headed flying-fox is recognisable by its rusty red collar, grey head and hairy legs. Adults have a wingspan of up to 1 metre and weigh up to 1 kilo.

Grey-headed Flying-foxes were traditionally found within 200km of the east coast of Australia, from Bundaberg (QLD) to Melbourne (VIC).

Many Grey-headed Flying-foxes, in recent years, have been found roosting and foraging outside these traditional areas.

Flying-foxes are moving closer to urban areas as a result of the loss of their natural habitat. Prolonged periods of drought had an impact on food supplies, causing flying-foxes to feed on domestic plants. 

Conservation status

Grey-headed Flying-fox numbers have rapidly declined. They are now listed as a threatened species.

State conservation status

The Grey-headed Flying-fox was listed as vulnerable by the NSW government through the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 in 2001.

This listing was transferred to the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 when it came into effect on 25 August 2017.

National conservation status

The Grey-headed Flying-fox was listed as vulnerable by the Australian government through the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in 2001.

At the time of listing, estimates of the species' abundance indicated a rate of decline of approximately 30 per cent.

Flying-Fox camps

The Cessnock local government area is home to three Grey-headed Flying-fox camps:

  • East Cessnock Flying-Fox Camp
  • Black Hill Flying-Fox Camp
  • Millfield Flying-Fox Camp

The Black Hill and Millfield camps have not been occupied since 2012. 

Cessnock Flying-Fox Camp Management Plan

The scope of the East Cessnock Flying-fox Camp Management Plan has been expanded to cover any new Flying-fox camps that may form on public land within the Cessnock Local Government Area. Council has amended its title to the Cessnock Flying-Fox Camp Management Plan accordingly.

It enables appropriate land management in reducing the impact of Flying-fox camps on Cessnock residents. It helps Council manage community expectations around how the presence of flying-fox is handled.

Cessnock Flying-Fox Camp Management Plan(PDF, 11MB)

If you find a sick or injured animal

Don't attempt to capture or touch a flying-fox, even if it's dead, sick or injured. 

Contact the Hunter Wildlife Rescue (Native Animal Trust Fund) on their 24 hour emergency hotline: 0418 628 483. A trained professional will attend to the animal.  

Flying-foxes pose no public health risk unless you're bitten or scratched. If you're bitten or scratched, seek medical attention immediately.