Animal Info - Rodrigues Flying Fox

(Other Names: Rodrigues Fruit Bat, Zorro Volador de la Isla Rodrigues)

Pteropus rodricensis

Status: Critically Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Early Development, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization, Genetics)
5. References


Profile

Picture: Rodrigues Flying Fox (68 Kb GIF) (The Wild Ones/Wildlife Trust)

The Rodrigues flying fox is a 300 g (0.7 lb) fruit bat found in dry woodland. Various fruits make up its diet, with ripe tamarind pods being a favorite food. Feeding is largely nocturnal. The Rodrigues flying fox is colonial and gregarious. Some adult males establish small territories and defend harems of up to 8 females. Although the young can fly at 3 - 4 months, they remain with their mother for a year.

The Rodrigues flying fox occurs only on Rodrigues, an island in Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It is threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation and by periodic devastating cyclones. It has always been subject to cyclones, but deforestation removes trees which previously provided shelter during the cyclones.


Tidbits

*** In the early 1970's the Rodrigues flying fox was considered the rarest bat in the world. Subsequent protection and habitat restoration has resulted in a population increase.

*** Rodrigues flying foxes are poor fliers in moderate winds, and any bats torn off their perches by a cyclone would certainly be swept out to sea out of control (Cheke & Dahl 1981).

*** Flying foxes are so-called because of their fox-like faces. They cannot use echolocation. Instead, they navigate using vision and normal hearing.


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Rodrigues Flying Fox Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Mauritius (Rodrigues) (IUCN 2004).

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

The Rodrigues flying fox occurs only on Rodrigues, an island in the Republic of Mauritius in the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. It was formerly also found on the island of Mauritius. Rodrigues has an area of 110 sq km (42 sq mi) and is an isolated island 574 km (356 mi) east of Mauritius. In the early 1970's there were less than 100 of the Rodrigues flying fox remaining in the wild and it was considered the rarest bat in the world. Subsequent protection and reforestation, newly identified roosts, and the movement of bats into different areas (which allowed more accurate counts to be made) has resulted in a population estimate in 2002 of a minimum of 5000 individuals (Powell & Wehneit 2003). The population undergoes extreme fluctuations due to cyclones (IUCN 2004).

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Habitat loss due to deforestation, mainly for harvesting firewood and clearing land for crops, and periodic devastating cyclones are the major threats to the Rodrigues flying fox . It has always been subject to cyclones, but deforestation removes trees which previously provided shelter during the cyclones.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The Rodrigues flying fox weighs 300 g (0.7 lb).

Habitat:

The Rodrigues flying fox is found in dry woodland characterized by the presence of Latania palms. It needs a variety of sheltered trees for roosting and feeding.

The Rodrigues flying fox lives in the Madagascar & Indian Ocean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005).

Gestation Period:

The gestation period of flying foxes is 4 - 5 months (Bonaccorso 1998). 

Birth Season:

There is an annual reproductive cycle. Dependent young are present from late August through to early February. Births in captivity are from October to April (Mickleburgh 1992).

Early Development:

Although a young Rodrigues flying fox can fly at 3 - 4 months, it remains with its mother for 1 year. Weaning usually occurs at 10 - 1 weeks, but occasionally not until 6 months.

Diet:

Ripe tamarind pods are a favorite food of the Rodrigues flying fox. Also eaten are rose-apple Eugenia jambo, mango, Ravenala, the native species of Pandanus and palm.

Behavior:

Feeding is largely nocturnal.

Social Organization:

The Rodrigues flying fox is colonial and gregarious. Some adult males establish small territories and defend harems of up to 8 females.

Genetics:

Despite its history of population restrictions, the wild population of the Rodrigues flying fox harbors a significant amount of genetic diversity. (AZA 1998b)


References

AZA 1998b, Bonaccorso 1998, Cheke & Dahl 1981, Cons. Intl. 2005, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Mickleburgh 1992, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Oryx 1977f, Powell & Wehneit 2003, Racey 1979, Stebbings 1980, The Wild Ones/Wildlife Trust


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Last modified: May 17, 2006;

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