It's A Fruit Bat's Life
Do you want to hear a fruit bat joke?
When is a bat not a bat? When it’s a flying fox! Sorry, couldn’t resist, I've been dying to do that for ages :-)
Many species of this type of bat have cute canine faces, which is where their alternative name comes from. Although, that does beg the question, why aren’t they called flying dogs…
But I’m getting a bit off topic here and Adi, the Egyptian fruit bat, is very keen to tell you about their lives. (She’s getting a bit impatient, so I best not keep her waiting!)
Hello and welcome to our tropical world!
You’ll find members of our family in Asia, Africa and Australia (the old word ones), as well as in the Carribean and Central and South America (the new world ones). There are 194 known species around the world.
Most of us like roosting in trees during the day but my particular species is known for roosting in caves. And we're found in most places in Africa, the Middle East and even in Europe (Cyprus).
SIZE AND DIET
Despite the size of some flying foxes, we're gentle creatures and feed on fruit, flowers and/or nectar.
The Old World ones are sometimes called megabats but some are actually really small e.g. the Common Blossom bat, which grows to be 6 cm in length! Some however do earn this name, like the Malayan flying fox, which can have a magnificent wingspan of 1.8 m (6 ft).
As an Egyptian fruit bat, when I'm fully grown, I'll get to be around 15 cm (6 inches) in length and have a wing-span of about 60 cm (24 inches).
OH GRANDMOTHER, WHAT BIG EYES YOU HAVE!
This is what I used to say to my grandma when I was much younger. Luckily she didn't respond with, "All the better to see you with my dear".
Old world fruit bats tend to have big eyes, which give us very good eyesight and so most don't echolocate. That is apart from our species which does. This is why we're able to roost in dark caves as we can use our echolocation to make our way round.
We also have a really good sense of smell.
We're a very sociable species who like to hang out (or upside down) in colonies of thousands of bats! Not all flying foxes like to have so much company but it's pretty common for other species to roost in large groups.
SEED DISPERSAL AND POLLINATION
Did you know...
...that flying foxes (both little and large) play a very important role in flower pollination and forest regeneration?
Our nightly visits to fruit trees such as the fig and mango ensure that their seeds are dispersed. In fact, trees like the majestic Baobab found in Madagascar, are very dependent on bats for their regeneration.
Oops! I've been talking so much I didn't hear my mother calling me. The sun is about to set and we'll soon be heading out into the night to look for fruits...I can't wait!
The Egyptian Fruit Bat - A Unique Flying Fox
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