Grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)

Grey-Headed Flying Fox

Grey-Headed Flying Fox. Image by Ian Moodie.

The indigenous Grey-headed flying fox can be recognised by its brown, furry body, reddish-coloured collar and grey head.

  • Although the Grey-headed flying fox is also known as a fruit bat, its diet consists mainly of nectar and pollen.
  • It can travel up to 50km each night in search of food.
  • Flying foxes are beneficial to bushland regeneration as they pollinate plants and disperse native seeds.
  • In Boroondara, a large colony lives in Yarra Bend Park off the Yarra Boulevard.
  • The Grey-headed flying fox is secure in Boroondara but is listed as a vulnerable species in Victoria. They are listed as a nationally threatened species protected in Victoria under the Wildlife Act 1975.
  • A flying fox may visit your property at night to feed on fruit or blossoms, but will usually return to camp after feeding. They do not usually cause significant damage to trees that they feed in but they may cause some leaf or fruit drop.
  • To protect your fruit and flowers you can cover small trees with netting or cover individual branches with brown paper bags.
  • If you find an injured flying fox, do not touch it; call a local wildlife care group to help.

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)


Platypus. Image by Cesar Consulting.

The Platypus is found in freshwater rivers and lakes in eastern Australia.

  • In Boroondara they are sometimes seen in the Yarra River in Kew and Hawthorn.
  • They are egg-laying mammals that grow to a length of 50cm and have a life span of 5 to 8 years. Like the Rakali they create riverbank burrows for shelter and protection.
  • They use sensors in their bill to hunt for food as they have poor eyesight.
  • They are most active at night and can swim underwater for up to 10 minutes.
  • They feed on a wide range of bottom-dwelling macroinvertebrates, along with yabbies, worms and shrimps, and have the ability to store excess fat in their tail when food is scarce.
  • The Platypus is endangered in Boroondara.
  • Walk your dog on a lead when walking around billabongs and the Yarra River.

Rakali (Hydromys chrysogaster)


Rakali. Image by David Judge.

The Rakali is an indigenous water rat that can be distinguished by its white-tipped tail.

  • Their soft, waterproof fur is black to grey on the upper part of their body and white to orange underneath.
  • Their body is approximately 30cm to 39cm in size and like the Otter they have partially webbed feet.
  • They are carnivorous, feeding on insects, crustaceans, lizards and birds.
  • The Rakali prefers fresh, brackish wetlands.
  • Like the Platypus, they create riverbank burrows for shelter and protection. Both species can use the same burrow over time.
  • In Boroondara, the Rakali can be seen eating on the rocks in Gardiners Creek in Eric Raven Reserve just before sunset.
  • The Rakali is endangered in Boroondara, but secure in Melbourne. In the past it was hunted for its soft fur but has been protected since 1938.

Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps)

Sugar Glider

Sugar Glider. Image copyright Jiri Lochman (Lochman Transparencies)

Sugar Gliders are nocturnal gliding possums. They are shy species and not easily seen.

  • Sugar Gliders have been confirmed at remnant bushland sites along the Yarra River including: Willsmere Reserve, Burke Road Billabong, GreenAcres Golf Club, Yarra Flats Reserve and Freeway Golf Course.
  • They rely on tree hollows for nesting and may move between hollows every few days.
  • Their diet is omnivorous. They eat sugary wattle gum, eucalyptus sap, pollen and invertebrates.
  • Sugar Gliders have a membrane that stretches between their fore and hind limbs that enables them to glide up to 50 metres between trees. Their long bushy tail is used for stability and steering.
  • They live in social groups of up to 12 animals. Most females breed between August and October.
  • The species appears to be secure in Victoria, due to conservation in parks, reserves, and roadside areas.
  • You can help protect the Sugar Glider by joining groups such as Burke Road Billabong that help to restore and revegetate sites along the Yarra. If you live close to the Yarra River you can help by planting locally native Wattles to provide Sugar Glider food, installing Sugar Glider nesting boxes and keeping your cat indoors overnight.

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