This species is sexually dimorphic in size.
Females weigh 510-665 g, while males weigh 950-100 g.
Forearm length is 157-181 mm and head and body length is 220-240mm.
Pteropus conspicillatus is black with a yellow mantle. The fur surrounding the eyes is yellow-green, giving the appearance of spectacles.
(Flannery, 1995; Andersen, 1912; Chambers, 1998)
Range mass: 510 to 1000 g.
Habitat and Ecology
Pteropus conspicillatus occupies primary and secondary growth tropical rainforest. Roosting generally occurs in dead trees or trees stripped of their foliage.
Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest
Pteropus conspicillatus is a frugivore specialist (sensu Richards, 1995), meaning >90% of its diet consists of the fruits of forest trees and palms. This species locates its food visually; thus, fruits pollinated by P. conspicillatus are light-colored and stand out against the dark upper rainforest canopy. Common fruits eaten include citrus, mango, Northern Bloomwood, and Apple Box. In addition, Pteropus conspicillatus raids orchards.
(Richards, 1995; Chambers, 1998)
Life History and Behavior
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Female P. conspicillatus reach sexual maturity at two years of age. Copulation occurs between March and May, followed by a 7-month gestation period. Generally, females give birth to one young per year. Young bats are weaned after four months.
(Chambers, 1998; Martin et al. 1995).
Average gestation period: 180 days.
Average number of offspring: 1.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern
The "vulnerable" status is based on a listing by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage for the Queensland Nature Conservation Act (QDEH 1994). QDEH only considers a species' status within Queensland, so a species that is stable or common
elsewhere in Australia may still be on the Queensland listing.
However, P. conspicillatus is fairly common throughout its limited range.
Due to habitat modification, P. conspicillatus is now feeding closer to the ground within reach of a paralysis tick; the tick causes deaths within the colonies, particularly of young bats.
(Cyplus On-Line--Cape York Peninsula Land Use Strategy; Chambers, 1998; Richards and Hall, 1998)
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Flying foxes cause an estimated $20 in damage to fruit crops annually in Australia; the proportion of this damage inflicted by P. conspicillatus is not known. In addition, P. conspicillatus and other species of flying foxes have caused power outages by "roosting" on electrical wires.
(Mickleburgh et al, 1992; Tideman, 1998)
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Pteropus conspicillatus is an important disperser of many rainforest species. Plants that are adapted to bat dispersal tend to have light-colored fruits, in contrast to the brightly-colored fruits of species adapted to avian dispersal and pollination. As a result, P. conspicillatus is an integral part of the rainforest ecosystem. Tourist visits to the tropical forest in Far North Queensland are economically important to the region.
In addition, P. conspicillatus is eaten both by aboriginal and non-aboriginal Australians. The growth and harvest of these animals as a food source has been proposed as an economically profitable and ecologically sustainable practice.
(Mickleburgh et al, 1992; Tideman, 1998; Richards, 1995)
Spectacled flying fox
The spectacled flying fox (Pteropus conspicillatus), also known as the spectacled fruit bat, is a megabat that lives in Australia's north-eastern regions of Queensland. It is also found in New Guinea and on the offshore islands including Woodlark Island, Alcester Island, Kiriwina, and Halmahera.
The spectacled flying fox was listed as a threatened species under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1991. They were considered vulnerable due to a significant decline in numbers as a result of loss of their prime feeding habitat and secluded camp sites. It has also been reported that spectacled flying foxes skim over the surface of water to drink and are sometimes eaten by crocodiles.
The head and body length is 22–24 cm, forearm 157–181 mm, weight 400–1000 g. A large black flying fox has pale yellow or straw-colored fur around its eyes. The mantle is pale yellow and goes across the back, neck, and shoulders. Some have pale yellow fur on the face and top of the head.
Spectacled flying foxes are forest dwellers and rainforests are their preferred habitat. They prefer to roost in the middle and upper canopy strata in the full sun. Colonies of the Spectacled flying fox can be found in rain forests, mangroves, and paperbark and eucalypt forests. No colony is known to be located more than 7 km from a rainforest.
The spectacled flying fox's natural diet is rainforest fruits, riparian zone flowers, and flowers from Myrtaceae (primarily Eucalyptus and Syzygium species) and fruits from the Moraceae (figs) and Myrtaceae (primarily Syzygium).
Spectacled flying foxes have one pup annually. Females are capable of breeding at one year of age. Males probably do not breed until three to four years of age. They are polygamous (similar to the grey-headed flying fox, Pteropus poliocephalus. Female to male ratio may be as high as 2:1. Conception occurs April to May. Sexual activity is continuous from about January to June. Females give birth to one young per year in October to December. Juveniles are nursed for over five months, and on weaning, congregate in nursery trees in the colony. The juveniles fly out for increasing distances with the colony at night and are 'parked' in nursery trees, often kilometres distant from the colony, and are brought back to the colony in the morning.
Spectacled flying foxes typically live to be around 12 to 15 years old. However healthy bats in captivity can exceed 30 years of age. Natural causes of mortality include predation mainly by rufus owls and pythons, death by paralysis tick when bats climb low to the ground to feed, as well as the death of premature babies that are born too early when either something goes wrong in the fetus' development, or the mother suffers from prolonged stress. Flying foxes are also frequently killed in human related incidents such as landing on power lines, and getting entangled in nets or barbed wire. Most wild flying foxes are assumed to live much shorter lives.
The species is part of Organization for Bat Conservation's many international conservation projects.
- Birt, P., Markus, N., Collins, L. & Hall, L. (1998) Nature Australia, Spring, pp. 55–59.
- Churchill, Sue. (1998) Australian Bats. Sydney: Reed New Holland, pp. 84–85.
- Hall, L. (1983) "Spectacled Flying Fox." In Ronald Strahan (ed.). The Mammals of Australia, Reed Books, Chatswood, p. 282.