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Old World Fruit Bats: Pteropodidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Like all bats, Old World fruit bats are crepuscular (kri-PUS-kyuh-lur), active at dawn and dusk, or nocturnal, active at night. During the day they roost, settle or rest, by hanging from their feet. They may hang with their wings wrapped around their bodies. If it is hot, they may use their wings to fan themselves. Many of the species roost in extremely large groups, called camps. A bat camp may contain anywhere from ten individual bats to over one million. The larger species often roost in large groups, whereas the smaller species tend to be more solitary. Most roost in trees; others roost in caves, deserted mines, or buildings.

When fruit is not available fruit bats will travel to another area. The larger species are slow and powerful fliers. Some of these bats will fly as far as 30 miles (15 kilometers) to reach a new feeding area. Island bats may fly over to a neighboring island.

Old World fruit bats differ from other families of bats in that most use smell and sight, rather than echolocation (eck-oh-loh-KAY-shun), to navigate and find their food. Echolocation is the technique of emitting sounds than detecting the location of objects from the echoes. Rousette bats are the only Old World fruit bats that use echolocation.

After these bats find their food they typically take it to away to a nearby tree. Smaller species are able to eat while hovering. Large Old World fruit bats, such as many of the flying fox species, may have to land or grab hold of a branch in order to eat the fruits. These bats hang upside down by one foot and use the other foot to hold the food. They bite off chunks of the food, swallow the juice, and spit out the pulp and seeds. Occasionally they also eat the pulp.

Within camps of flying foxes, one male fruit bat usually lives with up to eight female bats. This arrangement is called a harem (HARE-um). Females will produce one young per year. In other species the females may mate with two or more males while the males will mate with as many females as possible. At least one species is considered monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus), having one mate. Gestation, or pregnancy, is between four and six months.

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