Bat Report II:
Fruit Bats & Flying Foxes
by Heather of thebluewindmill
Fruit bats (Family Pteropodidae) live in dense forests in Africa, Europe, Australia, and Asia. There are about 166 species that are fruit bats in a bat family of over 900 species. Fruit bats are sometimes referred to as flying foxes. They live in huge colonies, known as ‘camps’ and these nocturnal animals are most active at night & rest during the day while hanging upside down from their feet.
“Fruit bats mostly eat fruit juice and flower nectar. They chew the fruit, then spit out the seeds, peel, and pulp. Fruit bats, like other Megachiropteran bats, use the sense of smell to find their food, fruit and/or nectar [rather than echolocation]. Although they have large eyes and can see well, fruit bats do not use sight as their primary sense" enchantedlearning.com
The fund is dedicated to the protection of “fruit bats and their habitat through conservation, education and research”. Their “goal is to save Old World fruit bat populations and their habitat with a non confrontational approach to reach solutions which benefits bats, peoples and ecosystems”; and they believe that “education is the greatest tool one can use to conserve fruit bat populations from decline. Teaching governments, forestry, wildlife personnel and the public the benefits of bats. Help them understand how fruit bats impact their daily lives.”
Reasons to save Fruit Bats
"Fruit bats play a vital role in the ecology of the rain forests where they live. Old world fruit bats eat the fruit, nectar or flowers of more than 300 plant species and these plants rely on the bats for seed dispersal and pollination. Unlike birds, bats disperse seeds far away from the parent tree by eating them and depositing the seeds in their droppings. In fact, Seeds dropped by bats can account for up to 95 percent of forest regrowth on cleared land. Performing this essential role puts these bats among the most important seed-dispersing animals of both the Old and New World."
"Bats are particularly important on islands where they are often the only flying animals big enough to transport larger seeds. Fruit bats have been shown to be the sole pollinator of the Baobab tree in Africa, this tree is important to so many other wildlife it is called the "Tree of Life".
"Small fruit bats such as the Dawn bat are important pollinators of many important agricultural plants like durian, mangoes, cashew, figs, balsa, dates, kapok and others. Some plants, like the durian of south East Asia, produce white flowers that only open at night and drop off the tree by morning, these flowers are especially designed to be pollinated by fruit bats."
“So, any decline to fruit bat populations will have a wider reaching consequence than just the loss of a species. If the fruit bats disappear, the rainforest where they live will not survive, [and] as a result many of the animals which depend on the rainforest will disappear as well. Economies of tropical countries highly rely on over 134 fruits and other products which are bat pollinated, without fruit bats their economies will suffer as a result."
“Last but not least, the major reason for protecting fruit bats is that they are beautiful, gentle, intelligent living creatures that deserve to live.”
“Flying Fox Conservation Fund is working towards opening a fruit bat rescue, rehabilitation, captive breeding, and research center on the island of Sulawesi. This center will be the first of its kind in all of Indonesia. The facility will help the Sulawesi wildlife personnel place fruit bats rescued from markets for later release, the center will be used to educate local people about the beneficial role bats play in their everyday lives. Flying Fox Conservation Fund will start a captive breeding program for threatened and endangered fruit bats. The center will be used by researchers and students to study fruit bats in captivity. Also if there is a need, our facility will be a sanctuary for Sulawesi's other endangered wildlife.”
On Oct. 21, 2010, Scott Heindrichs reported that the Flying Fox Conservation Fund recently “returned from Sulawesi, where [they] collect[ed] some Sulawesi flying foxes for a captive breeding program and presented an award to a village that has been protecting a camp of over 10,000 flying foxes for over 15 years”.
For more information or to make a donation to support this charity, visit
Photo courtesy of S. Heinrichs
For information on bat preservation, you can also check out Tolga Bat Hospital in Australia: Tolga Bat Hospital receives approximately "300 pups each tick season, many of them orphans. We foster out as many orphans as possible but are usually left with over 100 pups at the hospital itself"; and they "house 4 species of Australian flying foxes, tube-nosed bats, and microbats".
"I spotted this beautiful bat in the evening, when the sun was rolling toward the horizon, silhouetting the trees against the perfect sky. The colony of wild Australian flying-foxes (which are basically large bats) to which this one belonged to, were just waking up and stretching their wings. His buddies flew off a moment earlier, and this one was left alone for a few minutes to swing upside-down in the wind, and probably ponder the forest landscape beneath him - or so I like to think! " OcelotEyes