Egyptian Fruit Bat

by on April 25th, 2014
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The Egyptian fruit bat, rousettus aegypticus, is relatively large and robust compared to other species of its kind. They measure 4.5 to 8.4 inches (11.6 to 21.5 centimeters) in length from head to toe, and weigh 2.8 to 6 ounces (81 to 171 grams) with males being substantially larger than females. Despite their small size, an Egyptian fruit bat has an impressive wingspan, measuring up to 23.6 inches (60 centimeters). They have a grayish-brown to dark-brown fur coat that is often lighter on the belly as well as a pale yellow or orange color around the neck. Not only that, their tails are short, they have a fox-like face, large eyes, as well as dark, rounded, naked ears.

The Egyptian fruit bat can be found in Africa (including Egypt), Turkey, Cyprus, Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula. They may live in a variety of habitats, including lowlands and mountains, provided there are enough fruits, flowers and caves for roosting. These animals form the largest groups (called colonies) of any other fruit bat species. Their numbers have been known to reach up to 50,000 individuals in some cases. They will crowd together and chatter noisily, with fights often breaking out between group members.

The diet of an Egyptian fruit bat consists of soft fruits, pollen, flowers and leaves. They will go out to look for food at night and rest within a cave or similar structure during the day. They use their excellent senses of smell and vision, along with a rudimentary form of echolocation, to locate their food. Due to the nature of their diet, these flying mammals play a vital roll in pollinating and seed dispersing.

There are 2 breeding cycles for the Egyptian fruit bat, although most females will only take part in one of them (with the timing depending on their location). Females will form nursery colonies while males will go off and form separate groups. A female will give birth to a single offspring (although twins are not uncommon) after a gestation period of about 4 months. The little ones will cling to their mothers for the first few weeks of their lives. At about 6 weeks old, they will be left alone while their mother forages for food. They will learn to fly at around 3 months of age, going out to find their own food when night falls. It is unknown exactly how long these nocturnal creatures live in the wild, but in captivity, they have been known to live 25 years.

The Egyptian fruit bat is not an endangered species, although it does face a few threats. They are seen as pests and therefore are unrightfully poisoned or forced to leave their cave roosts (either by fumigation or destruction of said roost). They are also hunted for food in parts of Africa. Add that to the loss of natural habitat and pressure from the increase of tourists to caves and there is much to be concerned about for these animals. Hopefully, the Egyptian fruit bat can overcome its obstacles and avoid ever having to face the threat of extinction. After all, such a unique and important animal species deserves to live and prosper far into the future.

Works Cited

“Egyptian Fruit Bat” 14 June 2011

“Egyptian Fruit Bat” 14 June 2011

“Egyptian Fruit Bat (Rousettus Aegyptiacus)” 14 June 2011

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