Large Flying Fox

Large Flying Fox

Greater flying fox, Malayan flying fox, Malaysian flying fox, Large fruit bat, Kalang or Kalong

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Pteropus vampyrus
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
15-30 yrs
WEIGHT
0.6-1 kg
LENGTH
27-32 cm
WINGSPAN
1.5 m

The Large flying fox is a species of megabat that belongs to the Old World fruit bats family. It is one of the largest species of bat. They have long and woolly hair, which are shorter and more erect on the upper back. The color and texture of the coat differ between sexes and age classes. Males tend to have slightly stiffer and thicker coats than females. Immature individuals are almost all dull gray-brown. Young have a dark-colored mantle that becomes lighter in males when they mature. Hairs on their head range in color from mahogany-red and orange-ochreous to blackish. The ventral areas are brown or blackish, tinged with chocolate, gray or silver. The mantle can vary from pale dirty-buff to orange-yellow, while the chest is usually dark-golden brown or dark russet. Their wings are short and somewhat rounded at the tips. This allows them to fly slowly, but with great maneuverability. The wing membranes are only haired near the body.

Video

Distribution

Large flying foxes are found in southeast Asia. They range from the Malay Peninsula to the Philippines in the east and Indonesian Archipelago of Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Timor in the south. These flying foxes inhabit the primary forest, mangrove forest, coconut groves, mixed fruit orchards, and a number of other habitats. During the day, trees in mangrove forests and coconut groves may be used as roosts. In Borneo, they inhabit the coastal areas but move to nearby islands to feed on fruit.

Large Flying Fox habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Large flying foxes are very social creatures that roost in the thousands. One colony even was recorded numbering around 2,000 individuals and colonies of 10,000-20,000 have also been reported. They are nocturnal and may fly up to 50 km (31 mi) to their feeding grounds in one night. During the flight, bats are not vocal. Upon arrival at feeding grounds, large flocks form family or feeding groups. They may circle a fruit tree before landing, and usually land on the tips of branches in an upright position, then fall into a head-down position from which they feed. Feeding aggregations tend to be very noisy. Large flying foxes are territorial and they demonstrate it by growling and the spreading of wings. During antagonistic behavior, individuals maintain spacing with wrists/thumbs sparring, bites, and loud vocalizations. When moving to a suitable resting place after landing, an individual may fight with conspecifics along the way. When roosting the flying fox is positioned upside down with its wings wrapped up and when it gets too warm, the bat fans itself with its wings. Roosting bats are usually restless until midmorning.

Diet and Nutrition

Large flying foxes are herbivorous (frugivorous, nectarivorous, polynivorous) animals. They feed on flowers, nectar, and fruit. When all three food items are available, flowers and nectar are preferred. They also consume pollen, nectar, and flower of coconut and durian trees, as well as the fruits of rambutan, fig and langsat trees. Flying foxes will also eat mangoes and bananas.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
varies locally
PREGNANCY DURATION
140-190 days
FEMALE NAME
female
MALE NAME
male
BABY NAME
pup

Large flying foxes are polygynous. Males protect a small harem and mate with around ten females. The breeding season varies locally and females give birth to a single pup each year. The gestation period lasts around 140-190 days. For the first days after giving birth, the mothers carry their young but leave them at the roost when they go on their foraging trips. The young are usually weaned by two to three months. Both males and females in this species become reproductively mature at 2 years of age.

Population

Population threats

Main threats to Large flying foxes are hunting and the loss of habitat. These bats are hunted for food and for bushmeat contributing to their decline. In some areas, farmers consider them pests as they sometimes feed on their orchards. This species also suffers from the loss of lowland forest throughout much of its range.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Large flying fox total population size. However, there are estimated populations of the species in the following areas: Subic Bay (Luzon) - 20,000 individuals; Mindoro (Philippines) - 52,000 individuals; Thailand - 3,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.

Ecological niche

Due to their diet, Large flying foxes are important seed dispersers and pollinators of forest trees. They benefit the local ecosystem and contribute to regeneration of native forests.

References

1. Large Flying Fox on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_flying_fox
2. Large Flying Fox on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/18766/8593657

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