Malayan Flying Fox / Common Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus)
Order: Chiroptera, Family: Pteropodidae
In reality a bat, the Malayan flying fox has a wingspan up to 79 inches in length and weighs 53 ounces.
A membrane, called the "patagium," extends from its fingers and arms.
It has large eyes and a face resembling that of a fox, thus its name.
Its fur is reddish brown fur, and it has leathery black wings and a black nose.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
- In reality a bat, the Malayan flying fox has a wingspan up to 79 inches in length and weighs 53 ounces.
- A membrane, called the "patagium," extends from its fingers and arms.
- It has large eyes and a face resembling that of a fox, thus its name.
- Its fur is reddish brown fur, and it has leathery black wings and a black nose.
- Malayan flying foxes can be found throughout the Indo-Pacific region, especially southern Myanmar, Thailand, Indochina, West Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Java and New Guinea.
- They inhabit tropical and subtropical forests.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
- A frugivore, the flying fox primarily eats fruit (mangoes, bananas, figs, avocados), nuts, flower nectar, leaves, nectars, pollen and occasionally insects.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
- They are nocturnal.
- The flying fox uses sight and smell to find food, searching for food at dusk in ranges covering up to 40 miles. When it locates food, the flying fox crashes into foliage and grabs for it. It may also attempt to catch ahold of a branch with its hind feet, then swing upside down — once attached and hanging, the fox draws food to its mouth with one of its hind feet or with the clawed thumbs at the top of its wings.
- Malayan flying foxes roost in large, noisy crowds of about 7,000 in tall trees, caves, cultivated land, and cities or parks during daytime, hanging from branches by one or both feet and wrapped in wings.
- They lick and groom each other to express affection.
- Flying foxes reach sexual maturity at 2 years of age.
- During mating season, the male gains the female's attention by loudly squeaking and flashing bunches of hair on his back.
- Gestation lasts 100 to 150 days, with one young born.
- Young born fully furred with eyes open and weighs close to one-third of its mother's weight. It feeds on milk from the mother's mammary glands and is weaned after five months.
- Malayan flying foxes live for about 30 years.
VI. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT:
- The Malayan flying fox uses its patagium for fanning when surrounding temperature rises.
- Its excellent eyesight provides the flying fox with effective twilight vision.
- It uses its long, bristly tongue to lap up fruit and nectar, and for licking and grooming.
- Before letting go of a branch to fly away, the flying fox flaps its wings until horizontal to the ground.
VII. POPULATION STATUS:
- The Malayan flying fox is an important agent of pollination, an essential process in fruit production.
VIII. MORE MALAYAN FLYING FOX FACTS:
- The population is declining in most countries due to hunting and urbanization. These animals are hunted for food and medical purposes. Farmers kill them as pests, for they sometimes feast on planted fruit, causing extensive damage to plantations. They are also killed by people who fear them as carriers of disease.
- Raptors, parasites, raccoons, snakes, owls and humans all prey on the species.
- The Malayan flying fox is the largest bat in the world.
- It is called the "flying fox" because its face resembles that of a fox.
- As it does not hunt moving prey, the flying fox doesn't rely on echolocation to find its way around.
- Some cultures believe the species' meat contains curative properties for asthma.
- A group of 40 bats can disperse 150,000,000 seeds around the entire rain forest in one year.
- The flying fox opens and stretches its mouth in a yawn before going to sleep.
- Large numbers of flying foxes are called "camps."
- The Malayan flying fox cannot generate vitamin C (a limitation shared by humans and guinea pigs), thus it must get its supply from the fruit in its diet.
- An awkward landing in a camp's tree during feeding often result in fights among flying foxes and may cause an entire bat-laden tree to become highly agitated, full of fighting and screaming.