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Rodrigues Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensis) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding

Rodrigues Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensis)

Diet & Nutrition

  • All pteropid bats are generalized feeders on fruits and flowers of many native and non-native plants
    • Have been observed eating insects; in managed care will take meal worms, crickets (Pope 1998)
    • Recent studies suggest adults can meet protein needs from fruits alone - perhaps do not require insects (Dempsey 2004)
  • Historically, introduced ripe tamarind pods and mangoes were favored foods (Cheke & Dahl 1981)
  • Other food items: (Cheke & Dahl 1981)
    • Eugenia jambos (rose- apple) flowers and fruit
    • Pandanus
    • Palm fruits
  • In a study of fruit bats in Samoa (Petropus tonganus), leaves consumed added up to 46% more calcium to bats' diets. (Nelson et al 2005)
    • Female bats experience significant calcium demands during pregnancies and lactation due to large size of their young at birth. (Nelson et al 2005)

Feeding

  • Fruit crushed against palate, pulp and skin spit out
  • Drink on flights to and from feeding areas.
  • At least some species of Pteropus drink sea water, perhaps to replace mineral salts lacking in diet
  • Food intake may be as high as 2.5 times body mass. (Dempsey 2004)
  • Photo cells in eyes can detect red color; helpful in finding ripe fruits (Wang et al 2004)
  • Other fruit eating bats are in the New World phyllostomid family
    • These bats echolocate and are smaller than most Old World pteropid bats

Namesake

Rodrigues fruit bat eating fruit

As consumers of fruits and flowers, bats are important pollinators, especially in island ecosystems, like Rodrigues Island.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Carroll (1981)
Cheke & Dahl (1981)
Dempsey (2004)
Nelson et al. (2005)
Nowak (1999)
Pope (1998)

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