Large Flying Fox, Pteropus vampyrus
The large flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus) is a megabat that is can be found from the Malay Peninsula, to the Philippines in the east, with a southern range that included Timor, Java, Sumatra, and Borneo. Its other common names include the Malaysian flying fox, the greater flying fox, the Kalong, or the Kalang. This Old World bat prefers a habitat within many areas including mangrove and primary forests, as well as fruit orchards with a variety of fruits. Depending on the location in which it lives, this species can live at an altitude of up to 4,464 feet.
The large flying fox can reach an average weight of up to 2.4 pounds, with a wingspan of up to 4.9 inches. Its fur is mostly short, with the longest hairs appearing on the head. The color and texture of its fur varies depending upon the sex and age of each individual, with males rowing thicker fur and females growing thinner fur. The typical fur color can range from a gray brown in young individuals to lighter colors in adults. The fur on the head varies from reddish orange to black, while the underbelly is typically light brown to red in color. The wings of this species are relatively short for its size, but this aids in flying.
The large flying fox roosts in large groups, numbering in the thousands in the biggest colonies. Individuals will roost in trees, and maintain a certain amount of space from other bats by using teeth, thumbs, and vocalizations in an aggressive manner. When roosting, if the bat gets too hot, it may cool down by fanning itself with its wings.
The mating season or the large flying fox occurs at different times depending upon the location of each group. In the Philippines, these bats are able to mate between the months of April and May, and births in Thailand occur between March and April. A typical birth contains one young, which clings to its mother for the first few days of its life. Weaning occurs between two and three months.
The large flying fox consumes fruit, nectar, and pollen, but prefers flower pollen and nectar when available. It prefers food from durian and coconut trees, as well as langsat, rambutan, and fig trees. If these types of food are not available, it will eat bananas and mangoes and when eating fruit, it will tear through the rind to get to the soft meat and juices. Although this species is quiet during flight, once eating begins, it can become very loud.
The main threats to the large flying fox are habitat loss and hunting. It is hunted to be used as food, and is often killed because many fruit cultivators consider it. In some areas, humans are trying to prevent hunting of this species, but efforts have not been fully successful. The large flying fox appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Near Threatened”.
Image Caption: Pteropus vampyrus. Pictures from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Credit: Raul654/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)