Video of the Day
Fruit bats are indigenous to the world's rain forests and tropics. They can be found in South Asia, Africa, New Guinea and Australia. Though they are not predatory, they can be intimidating, as this group of bats boasts some of the largest in the world, with some having wingspans of more than 5 feet. They also feature some interesting and unique adaptations.
What Good Eyes They Have
When you think of bats, you probably think of virtually blind, flying mammals that only can find their way around the night skies using echolocation, but fruit bats can see perfectly well. Whereas other bats rely on echolocation to locate food, it would be difficult to track a banana hanging in a tree using only sound. So instead of chasing food on the fly using sonic emissions, fruit bats rely on keen eyesight and a well developed sense of smell to find fruit.
Nosy Like a Fox
Microbats, that is all bats that are not fruit bats, have short snouts and small eyes that make their faces look somewhat squished. Fruit bats, on the other hand, have long snouts and large eyes that give them an almost vulpine-looking face, which is where some of them get the name "flying fox." While the microbat's short snout is fine for eating insects, the fruit bat's longer snout, with more powerful teeth and a long tongue are useful for opening tough fruit rinds and for getting nectar out of difficult to reach plants.
What Sharp Claws They Have
Another useful tool that fruit bats have developed is a claw on their second digit, which is independent from the rest of their digits. This claw serves multiple purposes. It can be used for opening fruit or digging tough "meat" out of a fruit. The claw can serve as a sort of knife to free a meal at the stem. Some specimens, like the Rodriguez fruit bat, also have a claw on the thumb, and these claws can be used for climbing.
Broad Hunting Ground
Sometimes fruit can be hard to find. They may be out of season, or an increase in animal population may strain the food supply. Either way, that means your friendly, neighborhood fruit bat is going to have to wander a little further from home to find dinner. Fruit bats maintain very broad hunting grounds, at least to the degree that fruit can be hunted. If a food supply is diminishing in the areas around their treetop nests, a fruit bat can travel as far as 30 miles to find more. Not only does this great mobility help keep the fruit bat fed, it allows them to avoid danger, as they can easily outlast most predators or relocate when their environment becomes threatened.
- Anup Shah/Digital Vision/Getty Images