Flying Fox: Basics, Habits and Habitat, Notable Species, Fascinating Role in Ecosystem And It Is A Dangerous Carrier of Viruses.

Kingdom     Animalia

Phylum       Chordata

Class          Mammalia

Order          Chiroptera

Family         Pteropodidae

Genus         Pteropus

Species       Over 60

Flying Fox Basics

The Fox bat, often known as the Flying Fox, is a megabat genus (Pteropus). This genus has around 60 species of bats that may be found on tropical islands ranging from Madagascar to Australia, Indonesia, and mainland Asia. They’re fruit bats from the past.

The biggest bats are flying foxes, which may have a wingspan of 5 feet (1.5 metres) and a head and body length of 16 inches (40 cm). The flying fox features a fox-like head with short ears and large eyes, as its name indicates. Their claws are sharp and curled on their toes.

These huge bats eat fruit and other plants, as well as insects that they find using their excellent sense of smell. Most species are nocturnal and rely on their vision to travel, since they lack the ability to use echolocation like other bats. These bats have binocular eyesight and are able to see in low light.

Individuals and family groupings reside in the vast colonies where these sophisticated creatures live. They set up permanent and semi-permanent camps in locations where food is plentiful. These flying foxes may be heard making numerous cries to communicate as they depart to eat or return to sleep at dawn and twilight. They roost on trees throughout the day since they are usually nocturnal.

Flying foxes live for a long time and reproduce slowly, with most females having just one child each year. As a result, they are subject to hazards like culling, overhunting, and natural calamities. Overhunting has resulted in the extinction of six species in recent years. Farmers typically see flying foxes as pests because of the harm they inflict on crops. Flying foxes have been blamed in various nations for ruining fruit and nut harvests, including areca in India; almonds, mangos, and guavas in the Maldives; lychee in Mauritius; and stone fruits in Australia.

By 2018, the IUCN will have assessed 62 species of flying fox. Three are extremely endangered, seven are endangered, twenty are vulnerable, six are near threatened, and fourteen are of low concern. Eight of the remaining 12 species have insufficient evidence to adequately evaluate their state, and four are thought to be extinct.

Flying Fox

Notable Species

Grey-headed Flying Fox: The Grey-headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) is Australia’s biggest bat. It is Australia’s sole indigenous flying fox species, and the IUCN has classified it as vulnerable.

Large Flying Fox: One of the biggest bat species is the Large Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus). The males have stiffer and thicker coats than the females, with long and woolly hair. The coat’s colour and texture may also vary across sexes and age groups.

Indian Flying Fox:  South Central Asia is home to the Indian Flying Fox (Pteropus giganteus). These flying foxes are found in tropical woods and wetlands, and they like to sleep among banyan, tamarind, and fig trees near water sources.

Lyle’s Flying Fox: Pteropus lylei (Lyle’s Flying Fox) may be found in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. They may also be found in China’s Yunnan province. They are a medium-sized bat with a black colour scheme and an orange fur collar. These bats are classified as fragile because they are threatened by habitat loss, hunting, and agricultural harassment.

Little Red Flying Fox: The Little Red Flying Fox (Pteropus scapulatus) is a little flying fox that is an excellent flyer and climber. They are migratory bats that migrate from forest to forest or from coastal region to coastal area in pursuit of their preferred diet. They may be found throughout Australia’s northern and eastern regions.

Fun Facts about the Flying Fox

Flying foxes are fascinating creatures that live in tropical woods and play an important role in the environment. The biological characteristics of these flying species make them extremely intriguing to examine. Let’s have a look at it more closely!

Flying Fox

Rapid Digestion

Like other bats, flying foxes have a fast digestion system. They have outstanding chewing and fragmentation abilities. This implies that the digestive enzyme has a larger surface area to work with. They have such a fast digestive system that they may start defecating within 30 to 60 minutes after eating. This may help them carry less weight throughout their flight. These bats may eat anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of their body weight every day.

Flying Foxes Carry Viruses

Hendra virus and Australian Bat Lyssavirus are reported to be carried by flying foxes. These bats are known to carry the Hendra virus (HeV), which may sometimes spread to other species, including horses, causing them to die. HeV was initially discovered in 1994 from samples taken during an epidemic of respiratory and neurologic illness in horses and people in Hendra, a suburb of Brisbane, Australia. Human infection is extremely rare; between 1994 and 2013, only seven cases were reported.

Bats may transmit the Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) to humans. This virus, which is closely linked to the rabies virus, was originally discovered in 1996. It has been discovered in four different species of flying fox. Infection with the ABLV virus in humans may cause paralysis, delirium, convulsions, and death.

Vital Role in the Ecosystem

Flying foxes play a crucial role in maintaining the health of tropical forests by distributing seeds and pollinating flowers. As they crawl or fly between flowers and trees, pollen attaches to their fur, which they subsequently transfer to other plants. Bats are essential to the ecosystems in which they live, accounting for about half of the animal species present in most tropical forests.

These bats are much more important to the environment than previously believed. When it was previously considered that flying foxes were harmful and caused damage to this crop, researchers have revealed that they are quite successful at pollinating durian plants. The tropical durian fruit is highly coveted in Thailand and Malaysia, where it earns millions of dollars in local and international commerce.

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