Indian Flying Fox (Pteropus giganteus)

 

Class: Mammalia
Order: Chiroptera
Family:    Pteropidae
Size:    Length: 12 inches (30.5 cm)
Weight: 2 to 4 pounds (0.9 to 1.81 kg)
Diet: Bananas, mangos, guava, banyans, tamarinds, figs, flower blossoms and nectar
Distribution: Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, the Maldive Islands
Young:  1, sometimes 2
Animal Predators:  Raptors, snakes and some carnivores
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Group: Colony
Lifespan: Up to 15 years in the wild and 31 years in captivity

 

Facts/Trivia:

       There are over 60 species of flying foxes; the largest is Pteropus vampyrus.

       Flying foxes can swim, using their wings as flippers.

       Insect-eating bats navigate by echolocation, but flying foxes use their excellent eyesight instead.

       Indian flying foxes have large, flat molars.

Description

Indian flying foxes obtained their name because of their reddish brown fur and fox-like face. One of the largest in the bat family, Indian flying foxes have much larger wings than most other bats. Their wingspan is more than four feet (1.2 m) and they have enormous eyes and excellent vision. Their hind feet with long claws allow them to hang from branches while roosting or feeding.

 

Habitat

Flying foxes can be found in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the Maldive Islands. They openly live in colonies in one or more trees. Sometimes families of these bats live in the same trees for generations. They usually live near water, because they lose moisture through their wings and need to drink on a daily basis. 

                                                                                       

Feeding Habits

Bats do not sleep all day long, but periodically wake up for brief periods of time to observe their surroundings. Towards dusk, the colony awakens and begins to make noise. The bats head out, searching for food. Their diets consist mainly of fruit such as bananas, mangos, guava, banyans, tamarinds and figs, usually chewing the fruit to get the juice and spitting out much of the pulp. Although fruit growers are obviously not fond of these animals, the bats are nonetheless wonderful seed dispersers. They also eat flower blossoms and nectar. 

 

Reproduction

Gestation in females lasts five months. A single baby is born and it hangs on to its mother for the first few weeks and nurses for five months. Even after it is weaned, it will stay with its mother until it is eight months old. It reaches full size at one year and become sexually mature by two years.

 

Behaviour

Indian flying foxes live in large co-ed colonies comprised of many hundreds and roost hanging by their feet from tree branches. These bats have large claws that enable them to hang from a branch while resting or sleeping, and each bat wraps his wings around his body. During warm weather, they fan themselves with a wing to cool down.  The males often fight to get a better position in the tree, with the dominant males roosting at the top. Lower ranking males are only allowed on lower branches. Females move around freely, although males tend to be possessive of their females during mating season. 

 

Conservation

In many areas of India, Indian flying foxes are considered sacred and are fiercely protected by villagers. 

 

Sources

http://www.xmission.com/~hoglezoo/mammals/flyfox.htm

http://www.cmzoo.org/bats.html#Bats%20In%20General

http://ladywildlife.com/animal/indianflyingfox.html

http://ianhunt.tripod.com/Fruitbat.htm

http://www.mnzoo.com/animals/tropics_trail/fbat_1.asp

http://www.mnzoo.com/animals/tropics_trail/fbat_2.asp

http://www.batcon.org/batsmag/v6n2-3.html

Indian Flying Fox Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US