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The fruit bat, also known as the “flying fox,” is one of the largest bats in the world, receiving its name from its fox-like face and large eyes. Unlike most bats, this flying mammal uses its sight rather than echolocation to locate food. Hearing the loud squeals of other bats feeding also helps it locate a food source.
Flying foxes have two claws on the leading edge of their wings and pointed teeth. If we look at the jaws of the fruit bat, it has very sharp teeth. Most people have been taught that this is a design for a carnivorous animal. However, this unique creature is 100 percent vegetarian. Their entire diet consists of blossoms and fruit. When feeding on fruit, they drink the juice and spit out the pulp. Flying foxes have trouble getting into the air if caught on the ground, so they feed on fruit in the trees and will not follow a meal if it drops to the ground. They get their water by skimming over rivers and lakes and thus avoid having to land.
Flying foxes are found in Australia. Living in large colonies, they sometimes congregate by the tens of thousands in swamps, rainforests, and near rivers. They roost by hanging upside-down with their wings wrapped around their bodies and, like most bats, sleep during the day and feed at night. They sometimes fly long distances to obtain food.
Born around October, the baby flying fox is carried by its mother for the first two months, after which it is left behind while she feeds at night. The baby will be on its own after three months of age.
The flying fox plays an important role in the pollination of Australia, and its droppings aid in the distribution of seeds. However, many farmers in Australia are forced to cover their fruit to keep the bats from destroying their orchards.
Chiroptera • Pteropodidae • Pteropus Lylei
Length: 16 inches (40 cm)
Wing Span: 6 feet (1.8 m)
Special Design Feature: This large bat does not use echolocation like other bats but uses its eyesight.
Did You Know? The fruit bat (flying fox) is one of the largest bats in the world.