Adelaide’s population of grey-headed flying foxes has recently peaked at around 46,000 bats. Find out how it is they came to be in Adelaide, and why there are more of them now than ever before.

Grey-headed flying foxes roosting in Botanic Park
Grey-headed flying foxes in Adelaide’s Botanic Park. Photo: Craig Greer

Grey-headed flying foxes help to create healthy ecosystems. They play an important role in seed dispersal and pollination, helping native plants and trees to regenerate naturally.

You may have seen grey-headed flying foxes in their nightly trek, as they head out in search of blossoms and fruit to eat. This threatened species flies around 20 kilometres to forage for food, before heading home at dawn.

While grey-headed flying foxes have visited South Australia for many decades, it was in 2010 that these furry mammals established a colony (or camp) in Adelaide’s Botanic Park.

Recently, the size of Adelaide’s Botanic Park camp has been measured at its biggest yet. Discover why the camp currently has more bats.

Why are there more bats than ever before in Adelaide?

A recent count of grey-headed flying foxes at Botanic Park has revealed a peak of around 46,000 animals.

A large proportion of these bats have come from interstate.

While it is pretty exciting to welcome these new Adelaidians, we can't assume these big numbers in Adelaide mean an overall increase in the population. Adelaide's grey-headed flying fox numbers are up because currently we have enough of the food they love here, but it will start run short. Soon several of our eucalypt species will stop flowering, forcing a large number of bats to leave and find food elsewhere.

What does this mean? Well, likely our overall national population of the bats is the same – meaning they are still a threatened species, but Adelaide has proved to be a prime stop for their favourite food for now.

A grey-headed flying fox coming into roost, with wings outstretched
A grey-headed flying fox coming into roost. Photo: Craig Greer

What are we doing to look after Adelaide’s bats?

We are helping look after and manage Adelaide’s flying foxes by:

  • Holding stakeholder meetings to bring together the right experts to talk bats.
  • Monitoring Adelaide’s population.
  • Helping cool bats during heatwaves by supporting the installation of sprinklers at Botanic Park.
  • Working with Botanic Park event managers, such as WOMAD, on altering event set-up activities to reduce stress on bats.
  • Working with fruit growers to understand impacts of bats.
  • Working with SA Power Networks to support their installation of ‘frisbees’ on power lines to reduce young bats hitting the lines and causing power outages.

Learn more about bats in Adelaide, including grey-headed flying foxes and microbats.

Or, hear from SA's local bat expert and the Team Leader of Urban Biodiversity Jason Van Weenen about Adelaide's population of grey-headed flying foxes on our podcast.

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