About Straw-Colored Fruit Bats
Straw-colored fruit bats are one of 60 bat species often referred to as "flying foxes.” They get this nickname from their dog-like faces, large eyes and widespread ears. Flying foxes are members of a subfamily known as “megabats,” or Megachiroptera, which are large, frugivorous bats. Unlike smaller bat species, megabats have simple external ears and cannot use echolocation to search for food. Instead, they use their eyesight and sense of smell to find fruit, which they grab and hold with their large thumbs while they eat.
Straw-colored bats are one of the larger species of fruit bats, typically weighing 8-12 ounces. They measure 5-8 inches in length and their wingspan is 30-36 inches. Their wings are long and narrow, allowing them to fly long distances and not expend too much energy while they are flapping. These bats’ necks and backs are a yellowish-brown color, while their undersides are a tawny olive or brownish. They have pointed snouts, large eyes, and no facial markings. Males also have a straw-colored ring around their necks and tend to be larger in size compared to females.
This species of bat is a very social roosting species. They tend to roost in groups of 100,000 to 10,000,000 individuals! Even though they feed at night, they can be active during the day as they move about the roost. At night the colony will leave in small groups to search for food, which is usually found in nearby forests or plantations.
Food is located by sight and smell, and bats will often use the same food sources from season to season. When this food becomes scarce, these large colonies will migrate to a new location where food is more abundant.
Communication in this species has not been well researched, but these animals are reported to be quite noisy, often chattering to one another in their roosts. Because they roost in such large groups, individuals also come into physical contact frequently. It is likely that due to these circumstances, straw-colored bats use both acoustic communication and some sort of tactile communication to talk to one another.
Straw-Colored Fruit Bat at the Akron Zoo
The straw-colored fruit bats share a habitat with our Rodrigues fruit bats in our nocturnal animal building, located in Legends of the Wild.