Feeding ecology and diet

Fruit bats, as the name implies, are mainly frugivorous. However, some genera consume mainly nectar and pollen. Unlike the microchiropterans, there are no insectivorous fruit bats. Fruit bats obtain a piece of fruit and fly to a feeding tree.

A Gambian epauletted fruit bat (Epomophorus gambianus) mother and pup. (Photo by Merlin D. Tuttle/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

There they hang upside down by one foot, press the fruit to their chest with the other foot, and bite off pieces. They ingest the fruit, crush it against the palate with the tongue, consume the juice, and spit out the pulp and seeds. Because of this feeding behavior they are important seed dispersers. Nec-tarivorous bats, such as the blossom bats, have a long narrow snout and a long protrusible tongue that enables them to reach nectar in flowers. Some are pollinators and have a brushlike tip on the tongue for collecting pollen. During feeding some of the pollen sticks to their noses and the fur on the snout. When they visit the next flower they leave some pollen from the first flower.

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