Strawcolored fruit bat

Eidolon helvum

SUBFAMILY

Pteropodinae

TAXONOMY

Vespertilo vampyrus helvus (Kerr, 1792), Senegal.

OTHER COMMON NAMES English: Yellow fruit bat.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Head and body length, 5.5-7.9 in (14-20 cm); forearm length, 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm); tail length, 0.2-0.8 in (0.4-2 cm); weight, 8.1-12.3 oz (230-350 g). Pelage is brown, yellow, or reddish gray, yellowish ventrum, and a wide yellowish collar.

DISTRIBUTION

Africa south of the Sahara, north into Ethiopia and Egypt, southwestern Arabia.

HABITAT

Tropical forests, but also found in urban areas where human activity does not seem to disturb it. Savannas. Found up to 6,562 ft (2,000 m) altitude. Prefers tall trees for roosts.

BEHAVIOR

Gregarious. There have been reports that mixed sex colonies may actually number from 100,000 to one million. Eisentraut reported 10,000, which is probably the more usual number. Camps break up from around June to September. Migrate seasonally in small groups, but return to same roosting sites year after year.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

A variety of ripe fruit including domestic crops such as mango, bananas, and papaya. Appears to travel long distances when foraging.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Appears to have a single breeding season, but delayed implantation may occur during the dry season. Consequently, females all give birth at the same time during the rainy season. Actual gestation believed to last four months and a single pup is the norm.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Perceived as a threat to agriculture. Hunted as bushmeat. In some parts of Africa, local populations believe eating the meat of these bats increases women's fertility. A vector for rabies. ♦

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