Little Red flying Foxes (Pteropus scapulatus)
Little Red flying foxes look like a smaller version of the 3 larger Australian flying foxes, but they are also very different.
- they have a much wider distribution, ranging much further inland
- they give birth at the opposite time of year
- they are more nomadic than the other three,
- they feed almost exclusively on nectar and pollen,
- they often hang in large clusters rather than singly like the other flying foxes. When in these clusters, their combined weight often causes severe though temporary damage to the roost trees.
- they often share camps with the other three Australian species, but they also often displace them especially when they arrives in large numbers. When this happens at Tolga Scrub the Spectacleds often move to another part of the Scrub, but at Cairns library they often caused all the Spectacleds to leave.
This species is especially dependent on climatic conditions that determine flowering and nectar production as it almost entirely feeds on nectar. There have been starvation events in recent years where significant numbers of young are found dead under the camp. We think that food shortages mean the mothers do not have enough milk and have to abandon their young. Large numbers of dead Little Red pups have also been found during cold snaps. Most Little Reds give birth in northern Australia where it’s warmer in winter but sometimes there are maternity camps in southern Queensland that are susceptible.
Iconic photos of Little Red flying foxes in northern Australia often shown them flying down over water to get a drink and fresh water crocodiles leaping up to grab one.