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Rodrigues Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensis) Fact Sheet: Reproduction & Development

Rodrigues Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensis)

Courtship

  •  Adult males sniff female genitals and groom her often
  • "Wing flick" by male in front of female
    • Tip of wing flexed
    • Whole wing stretched
  • Grooming becomes more intense
  • Male orients to upper surface of female
  • Male fans wings against female's sides; attempts to hold female with his wings
  • Both animals vocalize
  • For mating to take place, female must let go of perch and hold onto male's ankles
  • When mating complete, female releases hold of male's legs and returns to perch
  • Breed October-December.

Reproduction

  • Females have offspring once a year in wild; every 9 mos. in captivity (West 1986)
  • Contraceptive implants used to manage captive population growth; this species breeds readily in captivity (Hayes et al 1996)
    • 18 female bats studied at Jersey Zoo to measure impact of the implant on their behavior and well-being
    • Implants have no measured effect on behavior

Gestation and Birth

Gestation

  • 140-192 days for Pteropus species
  • 180-360 days between births

  Birth

  • Female gives birth right side up; catches infant in wings
  • Example of birthing assistance (allomaternal care) in captive colony at Lubee Foundation in Florida: (Kunz & Allgaier 1994) (Bats Magazine 1995)
    • Helper female bat licks mother's anovaginal area
    • Helper female wraps mother in own wings
    • Helper female demonstrates correct birthing posture (feet-down)
    • Helper female helps support mother in cradle position and helps groom new pup
  • Twins occasionally born
  • At birth are fully furred, with colors much like the adults
  • Hind limbs well-developed (for clinging)
  • Weight at birth: average 45 g (1.6 oz) - is up to 18% of mother's weight
    • Mammals other than bats have young only about 8% of maternal weight (Kurta & Kunz 1986)
  • Eyes open; can hold up head within hours
    • Use very sharp claws and peg-like baby teeth to hold onto the mother.

Life Stages

West & Redshaw (1987); Kunz & Allgaier (1994)

Infant (<1 year old)     

  • Nursing pups are cradled in mother's wing membranes. (Olsson 2009)
  • Cared for about one year
  • Infants in wild as old as 6 weeks seen being carried by mothers in flight (Carroll 1981) (Hill and Smith 1988)
    • Infants carried until they become too heavy;
    • Often carried to feeding area and set on branch while mother feeds
  • From observation made at Jersey Zoo's breeding group in British Isles (Pook 1977)
    • Mothers roost apart from group until young are a few months old.
    • After 2 weeks, infants can cling to branches with feet, but in close contact with mothers
    • At 4 weeks could hang independently but close to mother
    • At 5-7 weeks might roost short distance away from mother
    • At 11 or 12 weeks, given banana by mother
    • Didn't feed on own until 5 months old
    • At 6 months still roosted under mother's wing and occasionally suckled

 Juvenile

  •  Mother still roosts with young after 1 year.

 Adult

  •  No species of Pteropus sexually mature before 18 months. (Pierson & Rainey 1992)
  • Age to sexual maturity between 12-24 months.

 

Longevity

  • Survival rates unknown in wild for members of Pteropus
  • Maximum life span for captive Pteropus: 31 years (Pierson & Rainey 1992)

Mortality and Health

  • Predators in wild: no known raptorial birds or predatory reptiles (Carroll 1981)
  • Rats and mynah birds may prey on these bats (Carroll 1981)
  • Significant losses due to cyclones
    • Bats swept out to sea
    • Trees stripped of leaves and fruit
    • Roosting trees destroyed
  • Bat mortality in general is not well documented (Gillette and Kimborough 1970; Messenger et al. 2003)

Mother and Pup

Rodrigues fruit bat mother grasping pup

A female Rodrigues fruit bat gives birth right side up and catches the infant in her wings.

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

Page Citations

Altringham (1996)
Braden (2000)
Crichton & Krutzsch (2000)
Hayes et al. (1996)
Pook (1977)
West (1986)
West & Redshaw (1987)

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