You are here

Egyptian Fruit Bats

Rousettus aegyptiacus
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern
Africa, Middle East, Pakistan, and India

Egyptian fruit bats are small compared to some of their megachiropterid cousins. They have a wingspan that averages 60 cm (2 ft), and a body length around 15 cm (6 in). Weight is typically around 160g (.35 lb). Males are larger than the females and can be easily distinguished by their large scrotal sack. They are typically a light brown in color, with darker brown wings. They have large pointed ears, dark eyes, and a long dog-like muzzle - which sometimes leads them to be referred to as flying foxes. Their fur is very soft, and their wings feel like pantyhose.

Like many bats, Egyptian fruit bats are nocturnal.  They spend their days roosting in trees or caves, often with large groups of other bats, sometimes numbering in the thousands.  They emerge from the roost to forage for food in the late evening, and return just before dawn.  They hang upside down, with their wings folded closely around their body.  Egyptian fruit bats, along with other species in the genus Rousettus, are the only megachiropterid bats to use echolocation, which they accomplish by emitting a series of sharp clicks with their tongue.  The clicks are normally slow and constant and speed up dramatically when the bat approaches an object.  They also make use of a range of vocalizations for communication, including grunts and screeches.  As a result, a large roosting colony can be a deafening cacophony.

Egyptian fruit bats are frugivorous, consuming large amounts of fruit each night.  Wild dates to be a favorite, but they will consume almost any soft, pulpy fruit.  Most of their diet tends to consist of unripe and insect and fungus-damaged fruit, which allows them to thrive in habitats where ripe fruit are not available year round.

Maturity is reached at about 9 months of age.  Females typically give birth to only a single baby each year, but twins are occasionally born, after a gestation period of around 115-120 days.  The young are carried by the female until they are able to hang from the roost on their own (after about six weeks), then they are left in the roost while the mother forages for food.  Once the baby bat can fly, at about three months of age, it will leave the roost on its own to hunt for its own food.  Offspring typically stay with the same colony as the parents for their entire lives.  The Egyptian fruit bat is well represented in zoos around the world.  They breed readily in captivity and easily adapt to a captive diet of more commonly available fruits and nectar.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Egyptian Fruit Bats", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.