Old World Fruit Bats: Pteropodidae
Egyptian Rousette (rousettus Aegyptiacus): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: Rousettes are relatively small compared to other Old World fruit bats. The head and body are approximately 4.5 to 5 inches long (11.4 to 12.7). These bats have a simple, doglike face and ears, large eyes, and a very short tail that sticks out. The tail is about 0.4 to 0.9 inches (1 to 2.2 centimeters) long. The fur of these bats is brown, and often tinged with gray.
Geographic range: Egyptian rousettes are found in southern, western, and eastern Africa, Egypt, the Middle East, and Cyprus.
Habitat: Egyptian rousettes roost in humid areas, such as dark caves and abandoned buildings. Most are found roosting in caves. In Cyprus, some colonies may move to open sites in March.
Diet: Rousettes feed on many kinds of soft fruits, the juice of hard fruits, and certain leaves. Figs and dates form its main diet in dry regions.
Behavior and reproduction: Egyptian rousettes roost primarily in caves. They also roost in buildings, ancient ruins, trees, and rock crevices. They can form colonies of up to several thousand individuals. In South Africa, camps had an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 bats. In Pakistan, these bats appear to form small roosting colonies of about twenty to forty individuals. The bats use smell to help them locate their food.
While Egyptian rousettes appear to have good vision, these bats also use echolocation. Scientists think they use echolocation to help them navigate in caves and at night. As opposed to the echolocation calls of many other bats, humans can hear the echolocation calls of rousettes. They make a clicking sound with their tongue.
Some populations breed two times during the year. Females have one offspring per year and gestation is about four to six months. In Egypt, a field study found they breed year round.
Egyptian rousettes and people: Fruit farmers are the most important threat to populations. In Turkey and Israel, rousette caves have been fumigated, filled with smoke or fumes in order to kill pests, or the caves have been closed off by walls.
Conservation status: Egyptian rousettes are not listed as threatened by the IUCN. ∎
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