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Indian Flying Fox image
Indian Flying Fox

Indian Flying Fox

(Mammal)

Indian Flying Fox Baby
Indian Flying Fox Baby

Indian Flying Fox Habits

The Indian flying fox lives in tropical forests and swamps, primarily in coastal areas. Where it does live inland, the bat is seldom found far from large areas of water. It is wide spread throughout the Indian subcontinent and is also found on the Maldive Islands. The Indian flying fox is one of the larger species of flying fox bats, and its strong flying ability has enabled it to colonize many of the islands throughout the Indian and Pacific oceans. Many species of the flying fox are, in fact, found only on specific island groups. It is likely that their ancestors flew to the islands from the mainland or were blown there by strong winds.
By day the Indian flying fox roosts in communal sites, called camps, hanging upside down in a large tree. Favored roost sites are often used for many years, and the trees become stripped of bark and foliage by the bats' sharp claws. The camps also have a musky odor that is characteristic of flying foxes. During the day the bats are noisy and active. Camps may contain several hundred to several thousand flying foxes. Within the roost there is often pecking order whereby the more dominant males occupy the best roosting sites.
Despite its large size, the Indian flying fox is less feared than other types of bats, such as the vampire bat. Rather than preying on animals, the Indian flying fox eats only fruit. While it once fed mainly on wild fruit, the bat now increasingly raids cultivated crops of fruit trees, which has brought it into conflict with man. In some areas it has posed such a threat to fruit farmers that it has been poisoned. The Indian flying fox is also hunted in parts of Pakistan for its fat, which is used for medicinal purposes. In the past 50 years, many small oceanic islands have been almost completely deforested and, as a result, the flying fox populations have experienced a decline.

Indian Flying Fox Communication

Bats use echolocation as their main source of communication. Since bats have poor eyesight, they rely on this method to help them 'see'. The bat emits a high-pitched sound and then navigates according to the echo of surrounding objects.

Indian Flying Fox Breeding

The Indian flying fox breeds from July to October. Mating takes place in the roost. Indian flying foxes do not form strong pair bonds, and males mate with any adult females roosting nearby. After five months--a long pregnancy for such a small mammal--the female gives birth to a single offspring.
The young bat emerges feet first. The newborn is in a far more advanced state than are most other types of bat of the same age. It is alert and its eyes are open. It is covered with fur and weighs as much as nine ounces--nearly a third as much as its mother. The care and feeding of the young are provided only by the female. For the first few weeks of its life, the newborn clings to its mother's breast, even when she flies from the roost to feed. The young bat is nursed for five moths but remains with its mother until it is eight months old. It is fully grown after a year but is not sexually mature until it is two years old.

Indian Flying Fox Food & Feeding

As darkness grows near, the Indian flying fox becomes increasingly restless. It leaves the roost with a group of other bats, and they fly to a feeding site that may be as far as 30 miles away. The Indian flying fox finds its way through the dark not by sound, as insectivorous (insect-eating) bats do, but by sight and smell. Its eyes are far larger then those of most bats and more closely resemble those of nocturnal primates. The Indian flying fox uses its large, flat molars to chew up a variety of fruit to obtain the juice. Very soft fruit such as bananas is swallowed, but usually the bat spits out the fruit pulp and seeds once it has extracted all the juice. The Indian flying fox also feeds on the juice and pollen of various tree flowers. Because the fruit on trees in a tropical forest does not ripen according to season, the bat must determine which trees have fruit about to ripen. Where the fruit is thinly scattered, the bats spread out at the feeding site. But more often, an entire group of bats descends on a few heavily laden trees and picks them bare.

Indian Flying Fox Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Length: 12 inches. Wingspan: 50 inches
              Weight: Male, 3 - 4 lbs. Female, 2 lbs
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: 1-2 years
             Mating: July to October
             Gestation: 140 - 150 days
             Number of young: 1; twins are rare
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Roosts in colonies; active at night
            Diet: Mangos, guavas, bananas
            Lifespan: Usually 15 years. Maximum recorded in captivity, 31 years 4 months

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • During flight the bat extends its legs outward to expand the span of its wing membrane.
  • Bats need more water than do other mammals of the same size because they lose a lot of moisture through their wings.
  • The largest bat in the world is a flying fox called the Kalong, which has a wingspan of nearly five feet.
  • One reason that bats roost upside down is so they can take flight easily--by simply letting go with their feet.
  • The flying fox is a strong swimmer and crosses rivers using its wings as flippers.

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