The Rodrigues flying fox is a species of flying foxes or fruit bats. These bats are called "flying foxes" because they have pointed ears and elongated muzzles which make them look like small foxes. The fur color of Rodrigues flying foxes varies and can be orange, yellow, red, silver or even black. Males and females in this species have a similar appearance.
Rodrigues flying foxes are native to Rodrigues, an island in the Indian Ocean belonging to Mauritius. Their natural habitat is tropical lowland forests. However, today they live in the valleys of the island, plantation forests, and in remaining patches of native forests.
Rodrigues flying foxes are social and live in large groups. Females roost together in groups and form a colony. Males roost alone. There is a dominance hierarchy among males, and they are territorial. They mark their territory with the scent by rubbing the neck, head, and chest on branches. Rodrigues bats forage at night and find their food with the help of excellent vision and sense of smell. They feed by squeezing out the juices and soft pulp of fruits, rarely swallowing the harder partsk.
Little is known about the mating system in Rodrigues flying foxes. However, as the dominant male gathers a harem of up to 10 females, with which he roosts and mates may suggest that these bats are polygynous. Subordinate and immature males tend to roost in another part of the camp. The breeding season occurs in October-December and females produce only one pup. The gestation period lasts around 120-180 days. Right after birth the pup clings to its mother's belly and stay attached around 30 days. When it becomes too heavy to carry, the mother leaves her pup at the roost. At 2-3 months after birth, young can fly and are fully weaned but they still roost with their mothers. Young pups become fully independent at 6-12 months after birth and reach reproductive maturity when they are 1- 2 years old.
Rodrigues flying foxes are threatened by habitat loss through storm damage and human intervention, and by local hunting for food. They also suffer from climate change and serve weather through droughts, storms, and flooding. Frequent hurricanes destroy the habitat of these bats and they lose their food and shelter. These hurricanes also blow the animals out to the sea where they die.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of Rodrigues flying foxes is around 20,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List, however, its numbers today are increasing.
Due to their diet, Rodrigues flying foxes act as important seed dispersers. They are also vital pollinators of certain flowers and trees throughout their range.