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Rodrigues Fruit Bat Fact File

Appearance

Rodrigues fruit bats are also known as the Rodrigues flying fox due to their fox like facial features. These include the pointed snout and triangular ears. Their body is covered with wooly fur which is black across much of the body. Across the head, neck, shoulders and in some individuals down the back there is golden fur.

They have black colored wings which are not furred. The wing is formed from skin that stretches between the fingers and thumb of each hand. Their elongated fingers act as the support for the wing.

Their bones are lighter than other mammlas to help them fly.

A rodrigues fruit bat will measure up to 20cm (7.9in) long and weigh up to 350g (12.3oz). Their wingspan is 50-90cm (2.5-3ft) across.

Diet

Rodrigues fruit bats are herbivores. Their diet is primarily made up of fruit such as mangoes, figs, palm fruit or tamarinds. They also eat pollen, leaves and bark in small amounts.

They are an important part of the ecosystem on the island they inhabit. They help to move both seeds and pollen through the ecosystem.

Like many bats the rodrigues fruit bat will squeeze the fruit to get the juice out rather than eating the fleshy parts. They have a strong jaw to assist with this.

Rodrigues fruit ba

Scientific Name

Pteropus rodricensis

Conservation Status

Endangered

Weight

350g (12.3oz)

Length

20cm (7.9in)

Wingspan

50-90cm (2.5-3ft)

Lifespan

28 years

Diet

Herbivorous

Range

The Rodrigues fruit bat is currently restricted to the island of Rodrigues off the coast of Africa.

Populations previously existed on Maurtitus but these are now extinct. Fossils have been found on Round Island which are listed as being from the Rodrigues fruit bat but this requires further research to confirm.

Habitat

They make their home in forested areas with large trees in which they can roost. These areas of forest need to be large enough to protect against cyclones which can blown over smaller forested areas and wash the bats out to sea.

Rodrigues fruit ba

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Reproduction

Wild Rodriguez fruit bats will give birth to their young from October to December. In captivity they are able to breed year round and some have been recorded to give birth twice in a year.

A single male controls a harem of eight females with which he mates. He will sniff and groom a female with which he wants to mate. Both will vocalize loudly while mating.

Their gestation is 5 months. At the conclusion of this a single pup is born. While giving birth the female will hang horizontally allowing the baby to crawl on to her stomach. Births typically take place alone though in an isolated case in captivity another fruit bat was observed helping a mother who struggled to give birth.

At birth the infant is furred and has its eyes open. They will cling to the mothers fur where they are carried for the start of their life. The young are feed milk from a teat under the armpit.

The pup remains attached to the mother for 30 days. At this point it is too heavy and is left with the other pups at the roost. By 50 days they are flapping the wings to build strength in them and by 2-3 months old they will be weaned and flying.

They will continue to roost with their mother until they are one year old.

Males are not involved in raising the young.

Sexual maturity is reached at 2 years old.

Behavior

Rodrigues fruit bats live in groups led by a single male with up to 8 females. Males who are not leading a harem will gather together to roost. During the day these groups roost in a tree and defend their territory against other groups. When roosting they will hang upside down. Each roost may contain thousands of bats.

They are nocturnal and active at night when they will feed socialize.

They are not capable of echolocation like smaller bats as they eat fruit not insects.

Their primary method of communication is through scent marking. They rub their musky odor over tree branches, foliage and other bats.

Rodrigues fruit ba

Predators and Threats

They face predation from rats and mynah birds.

During the 1970s numbers of these bats dropped so low that it was feared a single event such as a hurricane could be responsible for sending the species extinct. As such groups were collected for breeding programs both on the island and in zoos in Europe. This effort was led by the Durrell Trust.

Populations have primarily been threatened by habitat loss since humans first came to the island. Conservation efforts are underway to restore habitat to provide larger areas for the bats. At present they are restricted to a single valley of remnant vegetation.

It is believed that at present the island is supporting as many bats as it has the resources for and as such reintroductions have stopped.

Previously they were hunted by island residents as a food source though this is now considered rare.

Quick facts

Bats are the only mammals which are capable of true flight.

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Photo Credits

Top

By Kitty Terwolbeck from The Netherlands - Rodrigues flying fox (fruit bat) - Artis Royal Zoo, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63521983

Middle

By Kitty Terwolbeck from The Netherlands - Rodrigues flying fox (fruit bat) - Artis Royal Zoo, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63521983

Bottom

Fluteflute / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

References

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

Louisville Zoo. 2020. Bat, Rodrigues Fruit. [online] Available at: <https://louisvillezoo.org/animalsandplants/bat-rodrigues-fruit/> [Accessed 31 August 2020].

Philadelphia Zoo. 2020. Rodrigues Fruit Bat Conservation – Philadelphia Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://philadelphiazoo.org/rodrigues-fruit-bat-conservation/> [Accessed 31 August 2020].

Tatayah, V., Jhangeer-Khan, R., Bégué, J.A. & Jones, C.A. 2017. Pteropus rodricensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T18755A22087057. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T18755A22087057.en. Downloaded on 31 August 2020.

Capron Park Zoo. 2020. Rodrigues Fruit Bat. [online] Available at: <https://capronparkzoo.com/animal-collection/rodrigues-fruit-bat-2/> [Accessed 31 August 2020].

Popelka, V. 2006. "Pteropus rodricensis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed August 31, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Pteropus_rodricensis/

Belfastzoo.co.uk. 2020. The Zoo | Rodrigues Fruit Bat. [online] Available at: <http://www.belfastzoo.co.uk/animals/rodrigues-fruit-bat.aspx> [Accessed 31 August 2020].

Animals.sandiegozoo.org. 2020. Rodrigues Fruit Bat | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants. [online] Available at: <https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/rodrigues-fruit-bat> [Accessed 31 August 2020].

Bat Conservation International. 2020. Rodrigues Fruit Bat - Bat Conservation International. [online] Available at: <https://www.batcon.org/article/rodrigues-fruit-bat/> [Accessed 31 August 2020].

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