Large Flying Fox

Large Flying Fox

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The Large Flying Fox (Pteropus Vampyrus), also well known as the greater flying fox, Malayan flying fox, Malaysian flying fox, large fruit bat, kalang, or kalong, is a southeast Asian species of megabat in the family Pteropodidae. They get their name from their elongated face that simply reminds them of a fox.

Despite its scientific name, it feeds exclusively on fruits, nectar, and flowers, like the different flying foxes of the genus Pteropus. It is noted for being one of the largest bats. As with nearly all additional Old World fruit bats, it lacks the potential to echolocate but compensates for it with well-developed eyesight.

Content overview

Description

Characteristics

Appearance

Behavior

Habitat

Diet

Conservation

Predators, Threats and disease

Interesting Facts

Description

The Large flying Fox was one of the several mammal species originally described by Carl Linnaeus in the landmark 1758 10th edition of his Systema Naturae, receiving Vespertilio vampyrus. The holotype was collected on Java. This species name “vampyrus” is derived from Slavic “wampir” meaning “blood-sucking ghost or demon vampire”. Although it is fully vegetarian and largely frugivorous, this name was chosen for its “alleged blood-sucking habits”, although it is fully vegetarian and largely frugivorous. Because the genus Pteropus is so speciose, it is additionally subdivided into species groups.

The large flying fox is the namesake of the “vampyrus” group, which includes the following species:

  • Aldabra flying fox (Pteropus aldabrensis)
  • Ryukyu flying fox (Pteropus dasymallus)
  • Lyle’s flying fox (Pteropus lylei)
  • Indian flying fox (Pteropus medius)
  • Mauritian flying fox (Pteropus niger)
  • Bonin flying fox (Pteropus pselaphon)
  • Little golden-mantled flying fox (Pteropus pumilus)
  • Rodrigues flying fox (Pteropus rodricensis)
  • Madagascan flying fox (Pteropus rufus)
  • Seychelles fruit bat (Pteropus seychellensis)

Characteristics

Large Flying Fox Facts

  • Weight: 0.6 to 1 kg
  • Length: 27 to 32 cm
  • Teeth: 34
  • Wingspan: up to 1.5 m
  • Life Span: 15 to 30 yrs
  • Behaviors: arboreal, flies, nocturnal, motile, migratory, territorial, social,
  • Diet: herbivore, leaves, fruit, nectar, pollen, flowers
  • Habitat: tropical and terrestrial forests, rainforest biomes, wetlands swamps, agricultural and riparian lands
  • Sexual Maturity: 18 to 24 months
  • Gestation: 180 days; gives birth to a single pup and occasionally twins.

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Chiroptera
  • Family: Pteropodidae
  • Genus: Pteropus
  • Scientific Name: Pteropus vampyrus

Appearance

Malayan flying foxes are huge bats, and the heads have a unique fox-like feature. Their head is reddish-brown, and their body is brown to black with yellow spots among the shoulders. The large flying fox is amongst the largest species of bat. It weighs 0.65 – 1.1 kg and has a wingspan of up to 1.5 m. The hairs on many of its bodies are long and fluffy but are shorter and further straight on the upper back.

The color and surface of the coat change among members and age classes. Males manage to have somewhat more powerful and thicker coats than females. Juvenile selves are virtually all dull grey-brown. Young has a dark-coloured mantle that converts lighter in males when they culminate. The large flying fox has a great and strong skull. It has an entirety of 34 teeth. The large flying fox’s wings are short and slightly rounded at the tips.

Behavior

Colonies of large flying foxes fly in a scattered stream. They may fly up to 50 km (31 mi) to their feeding grounds in one night. Vocalizations are not made during flight. Large flocks fuse into family or feeding groups upon arrival at feeding grounds. Feeding aggregations tend to be very noisy.  Roosting bats are restless till mid-morning.  When it becomes too mild, a flying fox fans itself with its wings.

Flowering trees create the basis of territories in this species. Territorial behavior constitutes growling and the spreading of wings. Throughout antagonistic behavior, individuals keep spacing with wrists/thumbs sparring, bites, and loud vocalizations. When moving to a good resting place later landing, an individual may continue with conspecifics along the way.

Habitat

Flying foxes inhabit the primary forest, mangrove forest, coconut groves, mixed fruit orchards, and others. Throughout the day, trees in mangrove forests and coconut woods may be utilized as perches. In Malaysia, flying foxes favour lowland habitats below 365 m. In Borneo, they populate the coastal regions but travel to nearby islands to feed on fruit.

One colony was recorded, numbering approximately 2,000 individuals in a mangrove forest in Timor and colonies of 10,000 to 20,000 have also been reported. Generally, mangrove perches have lower resting bats than lowland roost sites, indicating mangrove forests are only employed tentatively.

Diet

This species essentially feeds on flowers, nectar and fruit. When the whole three food items are available, flowers and nectar are favoured. The pollen, nectar, and flower of coconut and durian trees, and the fruits of rambutan, fig and langsat trees, are employed. Flying foxes will also consume mangoes and bananas.

The large flying foxes are herbivores, particularly frugivores, feeding principally on fruits like bananas and mangos and leaves, nectar, pollen, flowers, and other plant matters.

Conservation

The large flying fox is estimated as a near-threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It satisfies the standards for this classification because it is probably experiencing significant population decay, though not at the rate needed for the vulnerable species specification higher than 30% loss over ten years. The bushmeat trade is happening in an unsustainable harvest of this species. Additionally, it is encountering habitat loss with deforestation. The large flying fox is on Appendix II of CITES, which regulates international trade.

Predators, Threats and disease

One threat to the large flying fox is habitat disruption. Flying foxes are seldom hunted for food, and the restrictions on hunting appear to be unenforceable. However, in unusual regions, farmers regard them as pests as they seldom support on their orchards. This species is more hunted for bush meat in Indonesia, according to its decay.

Predators recognized to consume flying foxes include carpet pythons, goannas, sea-eagles and the powerful owl. Additionally, currawongs and ravens are identified to combat flying foxes discovered on their individual in the daytime. However, these predators do not significantly lessen the overall flying fox community.

Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting and fascinating facts about the large Flying fox.

  • Large flying foxes are one of the world’s most abundant bat species.
  • Contrary to their scientific name, Malayan flying foxes are not vampire bats; they are fruit-eaters.
  • They have long, sharp, arched claws on their toes to hang effortlessly upside-down in trees.
  • They cannot echolocate but can manage their sharp eyesight to determine the victim.
  • Bats are the world’s only flying creatures. Other animals may fly through the air, but bats swing their wings and fly.
  • They are frequently nocturnal, flying up to 60 km (36 mi) a night while hunting.
  • The appearance of flowers on the trees looks to support territorial behavior in these bats.
  • The large flying foxes carry two diseases that can pretend a dangerous risk to human health, viz. bat lyssavirus and Hendra virus. However, epidemics from these diseases are very rare.
  • In Malaysia, about 22,000 large flying foxes are constitutionally hunted each year.

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