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Rodrigues Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensis) Fact Sheet: Managed Care

Rodrigues Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensis)

Husbandry at San Diego Zoo Global

(Todd Ryan, personal communication, 2019)

General

  • Shy but curious
    • Adults spend most of their time roosting
    • When not roosting, climb, feed, fly (especially young bats), and frequently manipulate objects in enclosure
      • See Enrichment, below
  • Adult males especially calm and approachable

Shelter

  • Enclosure with roosting and flight spaces
  • Structures for hanging upside down
    • Tree branches
      • Best to provide freshly cut branches; bats may damage live trees by stripping leaves
    • Plastic-coated wire mesh structures
      • High platforms, among branches or along low ceiling
      • Narrow mesh “ladders” allow bats to climb from floor back up to branches
  • Environmental conditions approximate tropical conditions experienced by these bats in the wild (Rodrigues Island, Indian Ocean)
    • Temperature
      • About 24-27°C (75-81°F)
    • Humidity
      • About 55-60%

Diet

  • Food in shallow dishes accessible throughout the day
    • New food offered 1 to 2 times per day
      • Fresh browse also provided (e.g., ficus leaves)
  • Fresh fruits
    • Honeydew
    • Papaya
    • Apples
    • Bananas
    • Pears
    • Figs
    • Oranges
  • Fresh vegetables
    • Romaine lettuce
    • Kale
    • Yam
  • Protein sources
    • Ground “biscuits” formulated for mammals
  • Young raised by keepers fed formula until weaned

Social interactions

  • Bats huddle together to keep warm
  • Males and females housed ogether
    • Both sexes territorial, males more so than females
  • Males may fight during an initial period, when establishing territory boundaries
    • Stop fighting once territories formed and dominance hierarchy is established
    • Rub scent onto branches to mark territory
  • Young bats more inclined to fly than adults
    • Young bats weigh less; easier to fly
    • Adults remain more sedentary to guard territory

Breeding

  • Breed well in managed care
  • Can be difficult to visually diagnose pregnancy in adult females
  • Newborns that need to be raised by keepers kept warm in incubator during first weeks

Enrichment

  • Objects to climb and hang from
    • Ropes
    • Chains
    • Hoops
    • Towels
    • Bat-shaped stuffed animals
    • Stuffed socks (“sock mom”) for young bats
    • Perches or platformes on hand-held poles used to move bats and aid in performing health checks
  • Foraging enrichment
    • Fresh branches (browse) (e.g., ficus)
    • Small cage feeders
      • Bat must manipulate cage to retrieve food items inside
      • Hung where flight and hanging behaviors will be elicited
    • Juice in drip bottle feeder, in syringe (dribbled into bat’s mouth by keeper), or offered on spoon
  • Opportunity for bat to temporarily move between (divided) enclosure spaces

Newborn Rodrigues Fruit Bat

A Rodrigues fruit bat pup being hand raised at San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

This 12-day-old pup (born via C-section on Jan. 11, 2017) uses its claws to cling to its “sock mom” during a routine feeding.

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

Page Citations

AZA (2000)
O'Brien et al. (2007)

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