Malayan Flying Fox

(Pteropus vampyrus)

FUN FACT

Like all Old World fruit bats, Malayan Fruit Bats don't echolocate. Instead, they depend heavily on sight and smell to find the fruit and flowers on which they feed.

Adopt a BirdThe Malayan Flying Fox the largest member of the genus Pteropus, with a wingspan approaching five feet and a weight of more than two pounds.  Unlike the bats we’re used to in North America, Flying Foxes (and other Old World “megabats”) eat pollen, nectar and flowers from coconut and durian trees, as well as mangoes and bananas.  This diet gives them their other common name – the Large Fruit Bat.  It also explains why they are only found in tropical habitats, and why they are so dependent on thriving, undisturbed forests for their survival.

The fur coat of Flying Foxes varies in texture and color with age and sex.  The head is usually reddish black or russet, and turns deep gold or orange during the breeding season. The back is black with scattered white hairs. Males tend to have thicker, stiffer fur, as well as neck tufts that females lack.  Females are also often a little bit smaller than males.

During the day, Flying Foxes roost in mangrove forests and coconut groves in groups sometimes numbering into the thousands.  At night, they fly in a scattered flock to their feeding grounds, often many kilometers distant, where they then congregate into family groups to forage.  Although they don’t vocalize while flying, a group of Flying Foxes at a feeding site can be very noisy!  Flaring of wings, growling, and loud screeches can all be part of their squabbles as they for compete for prime feeding spots.

Although Flying Foxes are an important pollinator and seed disperser for large tropical trees, they are in serious decline throughout much of their range due to destruction of forest habitat and over-hunting (both for sport and food).  For many of these trees, Flying Foxes are likely the only seed dispersers large enough to carry the seeds from the fruits they feed upon.  As such, seed dispersal by Flying Foxes is thought to play an important role in maintaining the forests throughout their range, and in helping with the reforestation of areas that have been cleared.

Distribution

Much of continental and insular Southeast Asia, as well as the Indonesian archipelago.

Habitat

Undisturbed tropical forests and swamps for roosting, forests and agricultural areas for foraging.

Diet

Feeds exclusively on fruit, nectar, and flowers (with nectar and flowers being preferred over fruit).

Breeding

Most often polygynous, with males protecting small harems of females at the roost site. Females produce a single offspring in March - May (depending on location). Mother will carry the baby for the first few days, then leave the baby at the roosting tree when she goes out to forage at night. Offspring are weaned at two-three months old.

Status

Near Threatened

At the Aviary

Visit our Malayan Flying Foxes in Canary's Call.