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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 7:50 EDT

Black-Eared Flying Fox, Pteropus melanotus

The black-eared flying fox (Pteropus melanotus), also known as the Christmas Island flying fox or Blyth’s flying fox, is a species of megabat that can be found in India, Indonesia, and Australia. It has a limited range that includes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India, Sumatra in Indonesia, and Christmas Island in Australia. It is thought to prefer a habitat within mangrove forests near swamps and can be found at elevations of up to 3,280 feet above sea level.

The black-eared flying fox prefers to roost in large colonies that can hold thousands of individuals, roosting in the open vegetation of its range. It roosts in different areas in different parts of its range and in different numbers, with most roosts in Christmas Island holding smaller amounts of bats. The species is most active during the day emerging from roosts before dusk. It is thought to feed on at least twenty-six species of plants, five of which are important introduced species. It is known to have one young per year.

The black-eared flying fox is threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation in some areas of its range, as well as hunting for medicinal purposes and human disturbances caused by tourism, like roost disturbances. It is thought that weather events, like hurricanes, could damage habitats and populations, but further research is needed to confirm this. It is listed as vermin under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, but global awareness of the species could help save it despite this status. It does occur in some protected areas, but conservation efforts are still needed in order to preserve its habitat. Research about its population numbers, taxonomic status, and habitats is needed before conservation efforts can be enacted. The black-eared flying fox appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Vulnerable.â€

Image Caption: Christmas Island Flying Fox (Pteropus melanotus natalis). Credit: Charles William Andrews/Wikipedia

Black-Eared Flying Fox Pteropus melanotus