Did you know that Bangu (Bats) include many species of Flying-fox and Blossom Bat? As a First Nations Yuin woman, these pollination superstars teach me important lessons about helping others, doing my part to care for Country, and taking the time to enjoy the sweet things in life!

Let’s learn how to tell our nectivorous (nectar-eating) and frugivorous (fruit-eating) Flying-fox Bangu apart.

Grey-headed Flying-fox

Even though they are listed as a vulnerable threatened species, Grey-headed Flying-foxes are the Bangu you are most likely to see around Sydney! They are found all along the South East Coast of Australia. Grey-Headed Bangu have silvery grey fur with a bold rusty-orange coloured scruff – or mantle – around the back of their necks.

Importantly – they have trousers! The fur of their bodies extends all the way down their legs to their feet.

Grey Headed Flying Fox
Grey Headed Flying Fox Image: Sara Judge
© Sara Judge

Black Flying-fox

Black Flying-foxes are common in Queensland and northern New South Wales, but are slowly moving further south. These Bangu have mostly black fur with a little bit of reddish-brown coloured mantle on the back of the neck. The mantle of the Black Bangu is less bold than the Grey-Headed Bangu and sometimes is not noticeable at all.

Importantly – they have NO trousers! The fur of their bodies stops at the knee so that the lower leg and ankle are bare!

Black Flying-foxes
Black Flying-foxes. Image: Steve Parish
© Steve Parish

Little Red Flying-fox

Little Red Flying-foxes are much smaller than Grey-headed and Black Bangu – they are sometimes mistaken for baby Flying-foxes. Unlike baby Flying-foxes – who prefer their own space with their mother only – Little Red Bangu hang together in clumps. They are found all along the South East Coast of Australia.

Little Red Bangu have reddish-brown fur with a little patch of lighter, creamier brown fur connecting the body and the wing. Even their wings are lighter than other Bangu – instead of black, they are reddish-brown like their fur.

Little Red Flying-foxes
Little Red Flying-foxes. Image: Steve Parish
© Steve Parish

Other Flying-foxes

If you were to travel up into the very tip of Queensland, you might meet a Spectacled Flying-fox. Spectacled Bangu get their name from the creamy coloured markings around their eyes that make them look like they are wearing glasses!

‘Flying-fox’ is sometimes used to describe very small nectar-eating Bangu called Blossom Bats. Blossom Bangu are smaller than other Flying-foxes and able to reach deep inside the rainforest flowers that they pollinate.

Bangu are really interesting animals! Find out more about Flying-foxes and Blossom Bats here.

Editorial note: Some animal names have been capitalised to give agency to Country by First Nations writers. Find out more about why we capitalise English language in reading Who is Country.

About the author

Sara Kianga Judge is a neurodiverse Walbunja-Yuin woman who grew up on Burramattagal Country. She is an environmental scientist, geographer and artist passionate about accessible science communication and helping people to grow meaningful relationships with Country.