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Old World Fruit Bats: Pteropodidae

Marianas Fruit Bat (pteropus Mariannus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Marianas fruit bats are one of the many species commonly called flying foxes. They are medium-sized bats with a body length of 7.5 to 9.9 inches (19 to 25 centimeters). The males are slightly larger than the females. The abdomen and wings are dark brown to black with silver hairs mixed throughout the fur. Around the neck and sides of the neck are yellow to bright gold on most animals. In some bats, this area is pale gold or pale brown. The color of the head varies from brown to dark brown.

Geographic range: The Marianas fruit bats are found in the Mariana Islands, located in the western Pacific Ocean, 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) southeast of Japan. They are also found in Guam, Okinawa, and the Ryuku Islands.

The Marianas fruit bat may live in colonies of up to 800 bats. Bats leave the colonies after sunset to search for food. (Illustration by Marguette Dongvillo. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: Marianas fruit bats live in tropical and subtropical areas. They typically live near a body of water.

Diet: These bats feed primarily on fruit, but they do eat other parts of plant materials, such as the flowers and leaves. Favored foods include the fruits of breadfruit, papaya, and figs, along with the flowers of kapok (KAY-pock), coconut, and gaogao.

Behavior and reproduction: Little is known about the nightly movements and behavior of Marianas fruit bats. Many of these bats live in large colonies that can reach 800 individuals. A smaller portion of these bats roost in smaller colonies of ten to twelve; all-male colonies of ten to fifteen; and some roost independently. During the day these bats primarily sleep. Bats gradually leave the colonies for several hours after sunset to forage, search for food. These bats move from island to island but overall, they do not move about much.

Within larger colonies, some males form harems of several females. The males will defend the females in its group.

Marianas fruit bats and people: Marianas fruit bats are hunted for food and, occasionally, their fur. This is one reason these bats have declined in population. These bats are a delicacy to the native Chamorro culture and are illegally hunted. Habitat destruction is another reason for the decline in population. The introduced species, a species brought from another part of the world, the brown tree snake in Guam has been a major predator on these young fruit bats.

Conservation status: Marianas fruit bats are listed as Endangered by the IUCN. In the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the Marianas fruit bat is locally listed as an endangered species due to the decline in population. Under local law it is illegal to hunt the fruit bat anywhere in the CNMI. ∎

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