Megabats constitute the suborder Megachiroptera, and its only family Pteropodidae of the order Chiroptera (bats) They are also called fruit bats, Old World fruit bats, or especially the genera Acerodon and Pteropus, flying foxes.
Megabats are found in tropical and subtropical areas of Eurasia, Africa, and Oceania. Compared to insectivorous bats, fruit bats are relatively large and, with some exceptions, do not navigate by echolocation. They are herbivores and rely on their keen senses of sight and smell to locate food.
The Microchiroptera (micro-keer-OP-ter-ah) and the Megachiroptera (mega-keer-OPter-ah). The vast majority of bats fall under the microchiropterans, which are in general smaller than the megachiropterans. Pteropodidae is the only family in the megachiropteran category. Pteropodids are commonly referred to as Old World fruit bats. The Old World refers to southern Europe, Asia, and Africa, while New World refers to North and South America.
Old World fruit bats have a wide range in size. Pygmy fruit bats are one of the smallest Old World fruit bats, with a head and body length of 2.4 to 2.8 inches (6 to 7 centimeters), smaller than many microchiropterans. Gigantic flying foxes are 15.7 inches (40 centimeters) long and can have a wingspan of 59 inches (150 centimeters)
The design of the webbed wings on the bat classify them as the only true mammals to be able to fly. Many argue this point but the scientific view is that other creatures are able to glide rather than to really fly.
There are more than 1,200 species of bats in the world.
70% of bats consume insects and small bugs for food. The other 30% consume various types of fruit. Only a small number of bats feed on blood.
Bats seem to do very well living in various environments. Therefore they are found in almost every location in the world.
The smallest bats are the Kitti’s Hog-Nosed Bat and they weigh less than an ounce. They are about 1 ½ inches long. The largest bats in the world are the Giant Golden Crowned Flying Fox. They weigh about 3 pounds and can be close to 5 feet long.
Due to the look of bats, they are sometimes mistaken for being a member of therodent family. Terms including flying rodent and flying rats can be found in many writings. However, DNA evidence proves that they aren’t part of the rodent family at all.
Bats are mammals. They use echolocation to be able to hear and to communicate. This is why they can find their prey in complete darkness without any difficulty.
Megabats mostly roost in trees and shrubs. Only those that possess echolocation venture into the dark recesses of caves. Because they eat fruit, some megabat species are unpopular with orchard owners. Megabats are frugivorous or nectarivorous, i.e. they eat fruits or lick nectar from flowers. Often, the fruits are crushed and only the juices are consumed. The teeth are adapted to bite through hard fruit rinds.
Pteropodids typically occur in primary or maturing secondary forests. A few species inhabit savannah habitats where they roost in bushes and low trees. Over half of the 41 genera are made up of species that roost in trees. Gregarious species roost on the open branches of large, canopy-emergent trees. Pteropodids that roost singly or in small groups can be found in dead palm leaves, aerial roots, and even arboreal termite nests.
These bats also tend to have cryptic coloration and wrap themselves with their wings in order to resemble dead leaves. In one species, Cynopterus sphinx, individuals construct tents by chewing folds in palm leaves. Caves, cliff walls, mines, and the eaves of buildings also serve as roosting locations for species in 17 genera. Most cave-dwelling species are limited to the lit areas near the opening, while members of the genus Rousettus are able to navigate the darker regions using crude echolocation.
Pteropodidae Lifespan and size
Pteropodids have been known to live at least 30 years, both in captivity and in the wild.
Body and wing size ranges from small (37 mm forearm length) to large (220 mm forearm length). The family boasts the largest bats in the world. Pteropus vampyrus individuals have a wingspan of up to 1.7 m.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Chiroptera
- Suborder: Megachiroptera or Yinpterochiroptera
- Dobson, 1875
- Family: Pteropodidae
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