Greater Short-nosed Fruit Bat, Cynopterus sphinx

The greater short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus sphinx), also known as the short-nosed Indian fruit bat, is a megabat that is native to southeastern and southern areas of Asia. Its range includes Pakistan, India, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, China, and Cambodia, among other areas. It prefers to reside in tropical habitats, where humans grow fruit as crops, but it will live in mangrove forests and grasslands. Like the lesser short-nosed fruit bat, this bat can be found roosting in palm fronds, which are chewed off in order to make the roost habitable. When palm fronds are not available for roosts, these bats will weave leaves and twigs of certain vine species together to make nests.

The greater short-nosed fruit bat can have an average wingspan of 18.8 inches in adults and have long noses and forearms. It is typically greyish brown in color on the back, while the underbelly is pale.  The fur of adults is typically darker than the fur of young individuals. The wings and ears are both lined with white fur.

The average number of individuals in each greater short-nosed bat group is between eight and nine bats. During mating season, the small groups grow to number between sixteen and twenty five, with nests consisting of both males and females. Males will typically remain in these groups for a while after mating season, but will then return to the all-male groups for the remainder of the year. These bats are the only non-primates to preform fellatio, where females stimulate males orally in order to quicken the mating process.

The mating season for the greater short-nosed fruit bat may vary depending upon location, but populations found in Central India are able to reproduce twice a year, producing one pup at each birth. The first pup is usually born between January and February, after which the mother will mate again and produce another pup around July. The pups are born weighing .4 ounces, and grow to be .8 ounces when weaned at only four weeks of age. There are more female bats than males within this species, and it is thought that this occurs because females are able to breed earlier than males, at only five months of age, while males can breed at one year.

The main diet of the greater short-nosed fruit bat consists of fruits like dates, lychees, ripe guavas, and bananas. It has been known to eat more than its own body weight in a single meal, and will locate the fruit by using a keen sense of smell.  This diet has caused it to be thought of as a pest by fruit crop farmers and it is also a known carrier of Japanese encephalitis, a disease that is highly harmful to humans. However, it is also a known seed disperser of fruits, especially dates.  The greater short-nosed fruit bat appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern”.

Image Caption: Greater short-nosed fruit bat Cynopterus sphinx in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. Credit: J.M.Garg/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)