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Egyptian Fruit Bat Fact File

Rousettus aegyptiacus

Credit: Вых Пыхманн, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight

80-100g

(2.75-3.5oz)

Length

14-16cm

(5.5-6.5in)

Lifespan

Wild 10 years

Captive 25 years

Diet

Herbivore

Fruit, Flowers, Buds

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

The Egyptian fruit bat is found across parts of Africa and the Middle East where they inhabit a wide variety of habitats.

Egyptian fruit bats are considered to be the only species of fruit-eating bat which makes use of echolocation. This allows them to hunt in darkness.

During the day these animals will roost in colonies with up to 2,000 members. They take shelter together in a cave or building ruins and these are often noisy as individuals squabble over food and prime roosting spots.

Their population is considered stable but they are threatened through hunting for food and persecution due to the perceived threat they present to food crops.

Read on to learn more about the magnificent mammals.

Appearance

What does the Egyptian Fruit Bat look like?

The coloration of their back is variable from dark brown to slate grey. On the underside they have smoky grey fur. Unlike other bat species their fur will extend halfway along the forearm. Short fur is present across the head.

Around the neck of the Egyptian fruit bat is a collar of yellow and buff fur which is more prominent in males.

On either side of the body is a wing membrane used for flight. These are colored dark brown. They are equipped with large eyes which help them to see when flying at night. These are colored black.

Each of their hindlimbs features five toes with small claws.

At the end of their body is a short tail of 1.5-2cm (0.5-0.75in) long.

An average Egyptian fruit bat measures 14-16cm (5.5-6.5in) long with a wingspan of up to 45.7cm (18in) across. They weigh an average of 80-100g (2.75-3.5oz). Their light weight is necessary to allow them to fly. Males tend to be slightly larger than females.

Diet

What does the Egyptian Fruit Bat eat?


Egyptian fruit bats are herbivores which primarily feed on fruit, flowers, buds and leaves. Observations of them taking small insects have been made.

Each night a single bat may eat more than its body weight in food.

While feeding they are considered aggressive and individuals often work to steal food from one another.

In studies it has been observed that Egyptian fruit bats avoid fermenting fruit by smelling the alcohol produced by it.

When feeding they become covered with pollen and will move this between trees helping with the reproduction of fruit trees and the preservation of their ecosystem.

Egyptian Fruit Bat

Credit: Emőke Dénes, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Range

Where can you find the Egyptian Fruit Bat?

Africa is the native of the Egyptian fruit bat with their range also extending in to the Middle East.

Here they can be found in the following countries – Angola; Burundi; Cameroon; Congo; The Democratic Republic of the Congo; Cyprus; Côte d'Ivoire; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Eswatini; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Iran; Israel; Jordan; Kenya; Lebanon; Lesotho; Liberia; Libya; Malawi; Mozambique; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; Palestine, State of; Rwanda; Sao Tome and Principe; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; South Africa; Spain; Sudan; Syrian Arab Republic; Tanzania; Togo; Turkey; Uganda; United Arab Emirates; Yemen; Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Habitat

What kind of environment does the Egyptian Fruit Bat live in?

These animals make their home in forest, savanna, shrubland, grassland and desert habitats. They show an ability to tolerate a broad range of habitats as long as they have food and roosting sites available.

— AD —

Reproduction

How does the Egyptian Fruit Bat produce its young?

This species undertakes two breeding seasons each year. One takes place from April to August while the second lasts from October to February. Births take place towards the end of the breeding season.

Males and females will mate with multiple partners during the breeding season. The father plays no part in raising their young.

Females raise a single pup at a time which is born after a 4 month gestation period. Occasionally twins are produced. At birth the bats are naked of fur except for a thin layer of down on the head and back.

Following the birth the female will wrap the pup in her wings to protect it from other bats in the roost.

The pups will be weaned between 6 and 10 weeks old. Full size is achieved by 9 months old and at this point they will leave their mother.

Sexual maturity is typically reached around 15 months old.

Behavior

What does the Egyptian Fruit Bat do with its day?

Egyptian fruit bats will live in large colonies. Each colony may include up to 2,000 members. They seek shelter in a cave or ancient ruin. Small colonies may take shelter in a tree.

Colonies are typically broken in to bachelor groups and groups of mothers and their young.

They are active by night and spend the day at their roost. While at the roost they will groom one another. At the roost they are highly vocal as they fight over roosts and food. During these fights they may beat one another with their wings.

When in the roost they rest in close contact with their other colony members and this assists with reducing the effect of temperature fluctuations.

These animals are able to find their location through echo sounds. The high frequency sound which they emit is unable to be found by humans. This allows them to orient themselves within complete darkness. They are the only species of fruit bat to make use of this technique.

Egyptian Fruit Bat

Credit: Original photo: אורן פלס Oren Peles Derivative work: User:MathKnight, CC BY 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the Egyptian Fruit Bat?

The population of the Egyptian fruit bat is considered stable and in parts of their range they may be considered locally abundant.

They face threats including hunting for food and persecution due to the perception that they are a threat to fruit crops. In parts of their range large numbers were previously destroyed through a process of fumigating their caves.

Quick facts

These animals may also be known as the Egyptian rousette bat.

Egyptian Fruit Bat

Credit: מינוזיג – MinoZig, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2012. The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of the world. London: Southwater.

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Cohen, R. 2011. "Rousettus aegyptiacus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed September 27, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Rousettus_aegyptiacus/

Korine, C. 2016. Rousettus aegyptiacusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T29730A22043105. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T29730A22043105.en. Downloaded on 27 September 2021.

Pairi Daiza. 2021. Egyptian Fruit Bat. [online] Available at: <https://www.pairidaiza.eu/en/activities/egyptian-fruit-bat> [Accessed 27 September 2021].

Dudleyzoo.org.uk. 2021. Bat (Egyptian fruit bat) – Dudley Zoo and Castle. [online] Available at: <https://www.dudleyzoo.org.uk/animal/bat-egyptian-fruit-bat/> [Accessed 27 September 2021].

Lincoln Park Zoo. 2021. Egyptian Fruit Bat – Lincoln Park Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.lpzoo.org/animal/egyptian-fruit-bat/> [Accessed 27 September 2021].

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