Rodrigues Fruit Bat
Endangered

Rodrigues Fruit Bat

Pteropus rodricensis
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Chiroptera
  • Family: Pteropodidae
  • Genus: Pteropus
  • Species: rodricensis

ABOUT

What does the bat say?  The Rodrigues fruit bat is also called the Rodrigues flying fox. Named for the island in the Indian Ocean where they originated, these highly social little mammals—like other bats—are no danger to humans and are, in fact, critically endangered themselves. They also serve as vital pollinators and seed dispersers in their ecosystem—after eating fruit, they poop out seeds. And because they fly from tree to tree, they carry pollen with them.

Sky puppies.  The name “flying fox” comes from the fruit bats’ dog-like face, with their bright eyes and pointy, expressive ears. They have small bodies, and their lightweight bones make it easier for them to fly. Their fur is woolly—golden colored on the head, neck, shoulders, and sometimes back. Their wings are black and not furred. Their wings are actually thin skin stretched between the fingers and thumb of each hand. Their long fingers act as wing supports.

HABITAT AND DIET

The bigger, the better.   The bats require tall, mature trees in large, contiguous tracts of forest for roosting and breeding. These forests also provide protection from frequent storms such as cyclones, which can easily blow down smaller stands of trees and sweep bats out to sea.

Rodrigues Fruit Bat holding onto a piece of fresh fruit.
Rodrigues Fruit Bat holding onto a piece of fresh fruit.

Fruit, glorious fruit.  Mangoes, rose-apples, figs, and tamarinds are just some of the fruits Rodrigues fruit bats seek out. Like many other fruit bats, they squeeze the juices and soft pulp out of the fruit, rarely consuming the harder fleshy parts. Pollen is also a possible nutrition source. At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the Rodrigues fruit bats are fed nectar and a variety of juicy fruits, including oranges, pears, grapes, and watermelon; as well as bananas and a bat pellet (to supplement their nutritional needs).

FAMILY LIFE

Rodrigues fruit bat with baby.
Rodrigues fruit bat with baby.

Coming home to roost.  A sociable species, Rodrigues fruit bats hang out together (upside down) in rain forest trees. They roost in large groups during the day. Before its numbers were threatened by habitat destruction, storms, and hunting, some of those groups could number 500 or more members.

Sunrise, sunset.  Rodrigues fruit bats are most active at dawn, at dusk, and at night.

Oh, rats!  While habitat destruction is a constant threat, Rodrigues fruit bats face predators such as rats and mynah birds. Humans also hunt them for food. Because of fear that a natural disaster such as a hurricane could wipe out the small population of Rodrigues fruit bats on their native island, conservationists initially brought the Rodrigues fruit bat into protective care. About 80 percent of the species is part of a single colony on Rodrigues Island.

Scents and sensibilities  As frugivores, Rodriguez fruit bats do not need echolocation to find moving food (such as insects). Instead, they have good vision and sense of smell, which allows them to find a meal. Since scent marking is used to designate territories, olfactory communication also must play a role in fruit bat society.

Girls, girls, girls.  A dominant male will select and breed with a harem of 8 to 10 females, while nonbreeding males roost elsewhere. Like most bat species, Rodrigues fruit bats reproduce slowly, with females bearing only one pup per year. The babies are born fully furred, with their eyes open. They are alert, but their wings are underdeveloped. After two to three months, pups are flying and fully weaned, although they still roost with their mothers. They do not become fully independent until 6 to 12 months of age.

AT THE ZOO

The Safari Park’s Nairobi Village  is home to the Bat House, where you'll find an entire colony of Rodrigues fruit bats.

CONSERVATION

To support bat conservation, we have partnered with the Rodrigues Environmental Educator Programme. Our colony has successfully bred Rodrigues fruit bat pups—and we performed a successful C-section birth in 2017.

You can help us bring species back from the brink by supporting the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. Together, we can save and protect wildlife around the globe.

 

Save Wildlife. Help us keep this and other species from disappearing forever.

Sounds

 

Life span

Up to 28 years in managed care

 

Young

Gestation: 130 to 180 days

Number of young at birth: 1

Weight of pup: 1.6 ounces (45 grams)

Age of maturity: 12 to 14 months 

 

Size

Body length: 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters)

Wingspan: 2.5 to 3 feet (50 to 90 centimeters)

Weight: About 12 ounces (350 grams)

 

 

Fun Facts

As they feed on fruit, Rodrigues fruit bats help their environment by dispersing seeds that can grow to replenish their food sources.

 

Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight.

 

 

DISCOVER WILDLIFE

More Animals & Plants from San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park

A Rodrigues fruit bat named Lucas

Legend of the Bat, Man!

Just as orphan Bruce Wayne's Batman had Alfred to get him started on the road to greatness, Lucas the Rodrigues fruit bat has Safari Park wildlife care specialists to help his saga take flight...

https://zoonooz.sandiegozoo.org/zoonooz/legend-of-the-bat-man/