Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fiji Wildlife - Flying Foxes

Here is a little more information about one of our mammalian neighbors in Fiji. The insular flying fox or Pacific flying fox is ubiquitous in our area. A large "flock" lives on an island about a mile to the west of us here at Siga Siga. They emerge from their "bat tree" at around sunset, which is happening at just after 6 pm these days. If you own a fruit tree with ripe fruit, you are destined to be kept up at night with their screeching as they fight over the fruit. And yes, they really do have three foot wingspans. Locals put them in soup. They catch them by sneaking up on them as they are eating and smash their heads against something. It is a tricky business as these little guys have a mouth full of nasty teeth.


A flock of Pacific Flying Foxes (look like little dots) leaving Wolf Island. Savusavu, Fiji. October 19th, 2010.

Some more background.....

Order : Chiroptera
Family : Pteropodidae
Subfamily : Pteropodinae
Species : Pteropus tonganus

Bats of the genus Pteropus, belonging to the Megachiroptera sub-order, are the largest bats in the world. They are commonly known as the Fruit Bats orFlying Foxes among other numerous colloquial names. They live in the tropics and subtropics of Asia (including the Indian subcontinent), Australia, Indonesia, islands off East Africa (but not the mainland Africa), and a number of remote oceanic islands in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Characteristically, all species of flying foxes only feed on nectar, blossom, pollen, and fruit, which explains their limited tropical distribution. They do not possess echolocation, a feature which helps the other sub-order of bats, the Microbats, locate and catch prey such as insects in mid-air. Instead, smell and eyesight are very well-developed in flying foxes. Feeding ranges can reach up to 40 miles. When it locates food, the flying fox "crashes" into foliage and grabs for it. It may also attempt to catch hold of a branch with its hind feet, then swing upside down — once attached and hanging, the fox draws food to its mouth with one of its hind feet or with the clawed thumbs at the top of its wings.



Close up of a Pacific Flying Fox.

Sources: http://thewebsiteofeverything.com/animals/mammals/Chiroptera/Pteropodidae/Pteropus/Pteropus-tonganus.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pteropus

2 comments:

  1. So you're saying that little flying dogs with six foot wingspans invade your neighborhood every night? See, that right there would put me on the next bus back to Bainbridge!

    Hope you guys are well. I have been enjoying your posts - keep them coming!

    Eric Stahl

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    Alena

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