Site Published:  16th April 2010
Page added:    14th July 2010

Bookmark and Share

Courtesy of Kate Purvis ~ Hendra Virus for Horseowners

The more we learn and understand about Flying Foxes and their feeding, roosting and travelling habits, we will have a better understanding about how to try to minimise the risk of contact between Flying Foxes and Horses.
Most importantly you need to know what is happening in your own backyard. You will not see Flying Fox activity during the day unless you are close to a roost so the key is to have a look around at night on a regular basis so that you know what activity (if any) is occurring and when. I visit many people's places who believe they do not have any Flying Foxes around but in fact they are there at night. When only a few individuals are around you will not hear their squabbling and their flight is almost silent so you need to take a torch out and really look. They will often sit silently in the trees until they are disturbed or made to feel uneasy and only then will they fly off and be able to be seen easily.
If you do not have a PDF reader installed on your computer, please click here to download a free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.
The more people know about a risk the more likely they are to handle the situation safely and less likely to panic and act inappropriately.

It is vitally important that ALL horseowners are made aware of Hendra Virus and itís risks to reduce human exposures. 

It is essential that we educate ourselves and our children to try to reduce the risks. As parents, we are responsible for teaching our children and forming their lifetime habits.
The information above was written and compiled by Kate Purvis who lost four of her horses in the 2008 Proserpine outbreak.  Read Kate's story here on her website. 

You DO NOT need to have flying foxes roosting on or adjacent to your property to be at risk. 
Flying foxes can travel in excess of 50klm per night. 

Finally, yet another typical landscape often seen around our country is similar to the Cawarral stud (pictured below).  Heavily timbered property, no bats roosting on or adjacent, the virus was traced to a colony at Yeppoon  (more than 15klms away).  Flying foxes were known to visit the property to feed in the trees at night.

Furthermore, this outbreak was an example of why ALL horse owners should be made aware of Hendra Virus, the symptoms to look for and protection measures to take when handling any sick horse.  How different this particular outbreak could have been had the infections happened a week later and this filly been still incubating when she was due to go through a large sale and may have been transported to anywhere in the country.

The front gate of the J4S Equine Nursery in Cawarral.

Hendra horse confirmed as Magic Millions filly
MELISSA MARTIN - August 11, 2009
A rising four-year-old Anglo Arabian filly from the J4S Equine Nursery at Central Queensland which was due to go up for auction at this weekend's Magic Millions Australian Sporthorse Sale has been confirmed as the horse which died of Hendra virus on the weekend.

Photo and full story at
It is worth noting here that the Cawarral outbreak (August 2009), resulted in four horse deaths and claimed the life of Dr Alister Rogers the veterinarian that treated the first filly to die.  The next two horses to die at the stud were under the care of another veterinarian (from another practice).  When the third horse deteriorated rapidly the stud managed contacted Dr Rogers and described the symptoms which is when Hendra virus was suspected and the DPI called in immediately. 
Research Papers
Contact Us
     Flying Fox Distribution Map of Australia see "Who Should Read This"

     Ecology and management of flying fox camps in an urbanising region.pdf

     Who's eating your fruit.pdf


     Understanding Flying Foxes - EPA.pdf

The following two links have details of SOME of the trees Flying Foxes use as food sources. This is certainly not an exhaustive list but it is a start. This information can be used to plan tree plantings or to manage existing trees (eg fence them off while flowering and/or plant/remove trees that will fruit / flower around the same time making paddock management easier than having multiple flowerings in the one paddock).

Please note that Flying Foxes eat the LEAVES of some trees too, so keep this in mind when planning. The ones that I know of to date are FIG, MELALEUCA, MANGROVE & MULBERRY TREES.

     Flying fox food trees.pdf

     Fruiting flowering seasons .pdf

This link has a list of alternative plants from a NT govt website but please remember that Flying Foxes may still visit these trees, they are just less likely to roost for longer periods in these trees.

     Flying fox plant list.pdf
To learn more about flying foxes and their roll in emerging diseases such as Hendra and Australian Bat Lyssavirus, please visit the Research Papers page.

Other useful sites to visit can be found on the Links page.

Flying Foxes and Hendra Virus
Download pdf

Living with Flying Foxes
Download pdf
The photo gallery below shows just a few of the landscapes
Back to top
Had the third horse not developed fatal symptoms and died, this outbreak may never have been detected or recorded.  Dr Rogers would still have lost his life but may never have been diagnosed.  The fourth horse sero-converted and tested positive to HeV after the property was quarantined.  Under National guidelines (Ausvetplan) for control of Hendra Virus she was destroyed and a full post mortem conducted by scientists.  This mare did start to develop mild symptoms the day before she was due to be destroyed, it was not established whether the symptoms were due to Hendra virus.