Bat Atlas

BatAtlas aims to provide up-to-date information on flying-foxes, particularly in Australia.

Bats, those creepy creatures of folklore, made headlines in Australia because of two newly discovered viruses that killed two people in 1994 and one in 1996. Fruitgrowers don't like bats because they destroy $20 million of fruit each year and in some places they cause power blackouts. All-in-all bats are not very popular animals in Australia. But bats also spread seeds which grow into new trees and they pollinate the flowers of many native plants. They are absolutely vital to the conservation of biodiversity - Australia's most important environmental issue.



Bat in the Hand. Douglas Wahl. Grey-headed Flying-fox, Pteropus poliocephalus, Lismore, NSW, Australia. Bites from large flying-foxes can really hurt - males of this species may weigh over one kilogram and can easily bite through unprotected fingernails. Handlers of live animals should wear steel mesh gloves inside leather...and be vaccinated against lyssavirus. (
Full Size - 148K)


Red Flying Foxes, Pteropus scapulatus. Richard Baker, Borroloola, Northern Territory, Australia
Full Size - 110K)

Bats are traditional food for Australian Aborigines, in Asia they are eaten to stave off colds and their dung is used to cure baldness. Solomon Islanders make kites from dried bat skins and Chinese people believe bats bring good luck! There are many fascinating sides to the bat story. People are sometimes bad luck for bats: some species have become extinct and others are in serious trouble. We need to know more about Australia's 90 species of bats - to conserve them and our forests, to prevent the spread of disease and for many other reasons.



More on Flying Foxes in Australia

Flying-foxes at Maclean: Inventing a new tradition

Flying-fox Harvesting in Australia: Social and Environmental Benefits

Publications on bats (1997-2000)

Publications on bats (1990-1996)


Bats and People
Bats and People



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