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Old World Fruit Bats: Pteropodidae

Physical Characteristics

Bats are broken into two categories: the Microchiroptera (micro-keer-OP-ter-ah) and the Megachiroptera (mega-keer-OPter-ah). The vast majority of bats fall under the microchiropterans, which are in general smaller than the megachiropterans. Pteropodidae is the only family in the megachiropteran category. Pteropodids are commonly referred to as Old World fruit bats. The Old World refers to southern Europe, Asia, and Africa, while New World refers to North and South America.

Old World fruit bats have a wide range in size. Pygmy fruit bats are one of the smallest Old World fruit bats, with a head and body length of 2.4 to 2.8 inches (6 to 7 centimeters), smaller than many microchiropterans. Gigantic flying foxes are 15.7 inches (40 centimeters) long and can have a wingspan of 59 inches (150 centimeters).

In general, Old World fruit bats have large eyes that face forward. These bats have claws on the first finger, their thumb, and most also have claws on their second finger. Their faces are typically doglike, with simple and relatively small ears. Their wings are typically broad and mostly furless. The tail is usually short or absent. With so many different species, fur color varies greatly. Most species of the Old World fruit bat are reddish brown, gray, or black. The underside of the bat is usually a pale color, such as a white or yellow.

Teeth are shaped to bite through fruit skin and crush the soft fruit matter. The front incisors, chisel-shaped teeth at the front of the mouth, are small and all have canines, four pointed teeth. Teeth at the sides and back tend to be flat and wide. In some species, especially those that eat nectar, the tongue is long and can stick out far beyond the end of the mouth.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsOld World Fruit Bats: Pteropodidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Old World Fruit Bats And People, Conservation Status, Marianas Fruit Bat (pteropus Mariannus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET