Common Name: Spectacled flying fox
Spectacled flying fox-left Rodrigues fruit bat-rightScientific Name: Pteropus conspicillatus
Distribution: North Eastern Queensland in Australia; Alcester Island, D’Entrecasteaux Islands, Louisiade Archipielago, Muyua; south-east New Guinea; Trobriand Islands (Kiriwina).
Status: CITES – Appendix II.  IUCN (2008) – Least Concern (LC).

The Spectacled Flying Fox lives primarily in the rainforest, but camps can also be found in mangroves and swamps. They are territorial and will repel any invaders from outside their group. This species is not threatened in the wild, but may be vulnerable due to habitat loss and hunting.

Spectacled Flying Fox weigh approximately 1-2 lbs (500-850 g). Males are larger than females, and use a mixture of skin and penis secretions that they rub onto branches to mark their territory. This secretion is a cranberry red color, which often stains the male’s fur. Their coloring is dark, almost black, with a straw colored neck ruff, and yellow markings around the eyes and muzzle. They use their wings to control heat loss, and have the greatest tolerance to changes in temperature of any mammal, being able to withstand temperatures from freezing to 104°F (40°C), with almost no changes in metabolic rate. Breeding takes place January-June, but conception primarily occurs in April and May. Gestation is approximately 6 months, and generally produces a single pup. Young are nursed for five months. After being weaned, they are grouped into nursery colonies, which then gradually fly out as a group with the adults in search of food.

Food preferences include light-colored fruit, which have a high visibility at night, as well as flowers. In captivity they are fed a diet of commercially available fruits, vegetables and Lubee’s fruit bat supplement.

On Threatened species day 2012 in Queensland, Australia the government legalized the shooting of Little Red, Black, Spectacled, and Grey-headed flying foxes, the latter of which is considered vulnerable, for the purposes of protecting crops.  These methods have been shown to be cruel and ineffective.  We strongly encourage a path of community education and better humane management of flying fox camps.  Please follow this link to our template letter you can use to contact the QLD government and encourage an end to this irresponsible practice.  Please be polite in any comments you might add.   You can find the Template Letter here.

Suggested Reading:

Mammals of Australia Edited by Ronald Strahan, Smithsonian Institution Press; p435-437.
Old World Fruit Bats; An Action Plan for their Conservation Compiled by Simon P. Mickleburgh, Anthony M. Hutson, and Paul A. Racey; IUCN/SSC Chiroptera Specialist Group, 1992, p 122-124.