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Old World Fruit Bats: Pteropodidae

Old World Fruit Bats And People

Because Old World fruit bats spit out seeds as they eat, they are important for spreading seeds for many plant species that people eat, and use for medicine and materials. Fruits that depend on bats for pollination, the transfer of pollen, or seed dispersal include bananas, peaches, dates, avocadoes, mangoes, and cashews. The species that thrive on nectar are also important pollinators. As these bats lap up nectar with their tongues, pollen sticks to their fur and is then rubbed or dropped when the bat visits its next flower. These bats are an important disperser of many rainforest species, which the planet and people depend upon.


The diet of flying fox bats may have helped solve a medical mystery. Researchers have been trying to understand why the Chamorro people of Guam developed neurological, brain, disorders at 50 to 100 times the rates elsewhere. A 2003 study linked this disease to the popular delicacy of the flying fox bat. These bats eat cycad (SYE-kad) seeds, which come from palm-like cycad plants common on Guam and surrounding Pacific islands. Cycad seeds contain chemicals that are poisonous to the human nervous system. Researchers continue to investigate the connection.

Deforestation, clearing the forest, has caused a decline in the population of many Old World fruit bat species as they lose their habitats and food supply. Forests also protect bats from natural storms, such as cyclones. People consider many of these bats pests, as they can destroy crops, and may try to eliminate them. Other people hunt and eat some of the Old World fruit bats, especially the larger ones. People such as the Chamorro of Guam consider flying foxes a delicacy.

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