Little red flying-fox

Common name: little red flying-fox

Scientific name: Pteropus scapulatus

Family: Pteropodidae

Conservation status: The little red flying-fox is listed as Least Concern in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992).


The little red flying-fox varies in colour from reddish-brown to light brown. In the Northern Territory they can be almost black. They have patches of light cream-brown fur where the wing and shoulder meet. The head can be greyish and the wings pale.

It is much smaller than other species of flying-foxes weighing between 200-600 g.

Habitat and distribution

This common fruit bat has a wide distribution, being found in northern and eastern Australia including Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. Common in rainforest and sclerophyll forests and extending inland to semi arid areas. They prefer to roost nearer to the ground than other flying-fox species.

Life history and behaviour

Like Australia's other flying-foxes, the little red flying-fox makes plenty of noise at night. A nocturnal feeder, it can be heard shrieking, squabbling over food or simply flying by, silent but for the beat of its wings. Using its jointed thumbs to climb, the little red flying-fox will clamber about trees while roosting or feeding. It will travel to dry inland areas to search for eucalypt blossoms. If it can't find these blossoms, it may raid fruit orchards, much to the irritation of farmers.

Little red flying-foxes have some interesting differences from Australia's other flying-fox species. They breed at different times of year, and roost closer together than other flying-foxes. A camp of red flying-foxes can number more than one hundred thousand bats. Little red flying-foxes give birth to one young per litter, usually in April to May.

Related information

Churchill, S (1998) Australian bats. New Holland, Sydney.

Duncan, A, Baker, GB and Montgomery, N (Eds.). (1999) The Action Plan for Australian Bats. Environment Australia, Canberra.

McCoy M (1995) Little red flying fox Pteropus scapulatus. In: The Mammals of Australia. (Ed. Strahan, R.), pp. 441 - 443. Reed Books: Chatswood, NSW.