The Flying Fox Pest in Australia


THE Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is finding difficulty in devising methods for coping with the large fruit-eating bats, commonly known as “flying foxes”, which are a most serious menace to fruit growers in Queensland and New South Wales. There are five species in Australia, the commonest by far being Pteropus poliocephalus. Nocturnal in habit, and very gregarious, these animals live in large camps of hundreds of thousands of individuals. They migrate according to season and food supply, but usually return to the same camps in successive seasons. In the daytime they cling to the branches of trees in dense numbers; they are restless and alert and a single gun-shot will put a whole camp to flight. At night they depart in search of food such as fruit, berries, eucalyptus flowers, and honey. They are particularly fond of cultivated fruit, and the damage that they can do in an orchard in one night is appalling. The amount of fruit actually eaten is relatively small; the ground is strewn with fallen material which has been merely nibbled or claw-marked.

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RIVETT, A. The Flying Fox Pest in Australia. Nature 120, 189–190 (1927).

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