Fact Sheet : RODRIGUES FRUIT BAT

 

A fruit bat

 

Bat exhibit,
Australia
House

 

Order: Chiroptera
Family: Pteropodidae

What do Rodrigues fruit bats look like?

Rodrigues fruit bats are between 15 and 20 cm long and don’t have a tail. Their wing span can be as great as 90 cm. They weigh about 340 g. Their color varies between black, silver, yellow-orange, and red. They have dog-like faces, large eyes, and large, widely spaced ears. Rodrigues fruit bats have a good sense of smell and a large thumb for crawling. It is difficult to tell males from females, although males are usually larger. At Brookfield Zoo, males are color banded on their left thumb and females are color banded on their right thumb.

How do Rodrigues fruit bats move?

Rodrigues fruit bats have large, broad wings for long-distance flying. They are quick and graceful climbers. They have large claws on their hind feet to help with climbing. Rodrigues fruit bats use eyesight, not echolocation, to find food.

Where are Rodrigues fruit bats found?

These bats are found on the island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Madagascar. In the wild, they live in a rain-forest habitat. At Brookfield Zoo, they are in the forest in Australia House. These bats need high humidity to keep their wing membranes from drying out and to keep their coat in good condition, so the building temperature is between 23_ and 27_C.

What kind of behavior do Rodrigues fruit bats exhibit?

These bats are nocturnal. They are very social animals who live in colonies or groups. Females usually roost in groups, while males roost by themselves. They usually roost in the same tree for many generations. There is a dominance hierarchy among the males. At Brookfield Zoo, males can form territories. They scent-mark their territories by rubbing their head, neck, and chest on branches or wires.

What about reproduction and caring for young?

It is unknown at what age these bats reproduce. They breed from October to December in the wild and yearlong in captivity. Females can give birth to an infant every nine months and usually have one pup. A female is pregnant for about 150 days. Pups are born fully furred, with wings developed to fly. The young cling to the mother’s belly when they are born. A pup is left at the roost at 30 days, when it is too heavy to carry. At 50 days, the young starts to explore the roost area, exercise, strengthen its wings by flapping, and develop social skills with other pups. At two months, the pup starts to fly and is fully weaned, although it still roosts with its mother. By six to seven months, it is fully independent. Rodrigues fruit bats live about 35 years.

What do Rodrigues fruit bats eat?

In the wild, they eat ripe fruit, flowers, pollen, and nectar. They hold the fruit with their claws while they eat.

What is Rodrigues fruit bats’ status in the wild?

In 1974, there were only 75 to 80 bats left in the wild. In 1976, 18 were brought into captivity for a breeding program. The species is listed as endangered. The bats have been affected by habitat destruction, hunting, and severe weather. Their predators are humans and natural disasters.

What kinds of things will I see in the exhibit?

The fruit bat exhibit is dark. The bats usually hang from the ceiling or crawl on the ground or branches. You can’t always make out the wing bands. You’ll be pretty close to the animals, since they are free-flying, so you should be able to follow one animal with your eyes without too much trouble.

 


Continue your research!

Yak's Corner is an online magazine for kids that has an archive of "Amazing Animals," including the Rodrigues fruit bat.

Find a lot more animal and zoo sites on the Links Page!

 

You can also go back to the animal list.


Images © 1997, 1998, 1999 Chicago Zoological Society. Brookfield Zoo is owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and managed by the Chicago Zoological Society.