Black Flying Fox, Pteropus alecto
The black-flying fox (Pteropus alecto) is a species of megabat that can be found in Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. This species prefers a habitat within a variety of areas including swamps, rainforests, bamboo forests, and mangroves, where it roosts openly. Young individuals of this species that reside on Moa Island were once thought to be a separate species known as Pteropus banakrisi.
The black-flying fox is one of the largest bats in the world, holding an average wingspan of 3.2 feet and an average weight of 1.6 pounds. It has short black fur, with reddish fur occurring along the shoulders. Like other megabats, this species feeds on a variety of food including nectar from eucalyptus and turpine trees, but it will consume fruits such as apples or mangoes if preferred native foods are not abundant.
Like many bat species, the black-flying fox is nocturnal and rests in large colonies during the daytime hours. These colonies hold between one hundred to tens of thousands of bats, even sharing their roosts with other bat species like the little red flying fox. The breeding season for the black-flying fox occurs once a year, after which one pup is born to each mother and carried around for one month. Once the pups are large enough to roost on their own, the mothers will leave the roost to forage on their own.
The black flying fox is threatened by habitat destruction and massive temperature changes, but it is also threatened in urban areas by humans who consider it a pest. The public’s opinion of the species has recently become negative due to the discovery of three new zoonotic viruses, although only the Australian bat lyssavirus is transmittable to humans. Despite having so many threats, the black flying fox appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”