A flying fox hanging upside down from the tree

Three things you can do right now to help flying foxes.

Flying foxes are in crisis – and that means as well as each sensitive individual animal, entire ecosystems are under threat.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated May 28, 2024

Right now, Australia’s precious flying foxes are under threat like never before. These sensitive animals are being orphaned, injured, killed in devastating numbers and dedicated wildlife carers are being inundated with animals needing their help. 

The situation is becoming so dire that some carers feel they may soon have no choice but to euthanise orphaned pups, as there is simply not enough capacity to give them the intensive love and care that they need.  

Not only is this unfolding crisis an animal welfare disaster – but flying foxes are a keystone species, meaning entire ecosystems rely on them for survival. As numbers dwindle, the existential threats faced by these unique species is an existential threat to Australia’s forests. 

While long-term solutions, including addressing the climate crisis and protecting crucial flying fox roosting and foraging habitat, will be required in order to spare fruit bats from extinction, there are ways caring people can help flying foxes right now:

1. Use safer netting for your fruit trees

Wildlife carers are reporting a spike in numbers of fruit bats becoming entangled in dangerous tree netting. In Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, it is now against the law to use netting in gardens that pose a threat to wildlife. Any nets used must have a mesh size of 5 x 5mm or less at full stretch. As a general rule, if you can pass your finger through the mesh, then it is dangerous for wildlife. Head here for a comprehensive guide to wildlife-safe tree netting.

Even better than opting for safer netting is choosing to share your fruit trees with hungry wildlife…

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A grey headed flying fox tangled in unsafe fruit tree netting.

2. Make your garden flying fox-friendly

If you have fruit trees in your garden, consider sharing them with wildlife. Flying foxes are under increasing threat from habitat destruction and loss of their preferred food source (blossoms). If you do wish to net your trees, consider only netting part of the tree, leaving out some of the fruit for wildlife. 

Protect access to established native eucalypts, tea-trees, grevilleas, figs and lilly pillys by never netting them – and longer-term, plant more native plans that will help fruit bats survive (you can find a detailed list of preferred species here).

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A grey headed flying fox hanging in a tree with their wings tucked close to their body.

3. Support your local wildlife carers

Wildlife carers are heroes to Australia’s native animals. Bats (and especially pups) require a high degree of specialised care and supplies, and carers will lovingly rehabilitate these beautiful animals often at their own expense. Learn about the carers operating in your area, and consider how you can support them. (Tip: it’s also handy to have a list of local wildlife carers on the ready, so you know who to contact if you ever need assistance with a native animal needing help!)

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A small rescued flying fox wrapped in an orange blanket, bottle feeding.

Next time you’re lucky enough to be enjoying Australia’s forests, remember – it’s flying foxes that enable these incredible ecosystems (and all the animals living there!) to exist. They give us so much, and all they ask in return is to be allowed to survive, and raise their babies, safely.

NOTE: Only trained and vaccinated rescuers should ever handle bats in Australia. If you have a bat in need of help, always call your local wildlife rescue group.

Thank you for helping wildlife

It’s no surprise that it isn’t just flying foxes who need a helping hand. Life is becoming increasingly challenging for Australian wildlife – and wildlife the world over – as human activity destroys or disturbs their habitats. Hundreds of people nationwide have already chosen to better share the space they call home, and you can join them! Pledge to make your yard wildlife-friendly today.