Wahlbergs epauletted fruit bat

Epomophorus wahlbergi

SUBFAMILY

Pteropodinae

TAXONOMY

Pteropus wahlbergi (Sundevall, 1846), vicinity of Durban, Natal, South Africa.

OTHER COMMON NAMES None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Sexually dimorphic with males slightly larger than females. Head and body length, 5.5-9.8 in (14-25 cm); forearm length, males 2.8-3.7 in (7.2-9.5 cm), females 2.7-3.5 in (6.8-8.8 cm); wingspan, males 201-236 in (510-600 cm), females 179.5-212.5 in (456-540 cm); weight, males 2.1-4.4 oz (60-124 g), females 1.9-4.4 oz (54-125 g). Pelage is dark brown, in females the ventrum is lighter and the neck is white. Males have white tufts at the base of the pinna (the fleshy external ear), white shoulder epaulettes, and a small pharyngeal sac. The shoulder epaulets are hidden in a pouch until skin muscles evert the tufts for display. Both sexes have expandable pendulous lips.

DISTRIBUTION

Eastern and southeastern Africa.

HABITAT

Edges of forest, woodlands, and savanna.

BEHAVIOR

Roosts in camps of 3-100 individuals. About 30 minutes before flight time there is intensive grooming. Little interaction is ob-

served among individuals outside the roosting time. Males hang on branches, evert their tufts, and make calls after leaving the day roost. This appears to have a territorial function to separate males. During the breeding season it probably serves to attract females.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Consume figs, guava, bananas, and nectar. Stomach contents of several individuals contained beetles suggesting some insec-tivory. These bats fly considerable distances from roosts to feeding areas.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Two breeding seasons a year. Gestation lasts 5-6 months. Single births are the norm.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Believed to cause some crop damage. Considered a pest because their calls keep people awake at night and their guano droppings fall on human-built structures. ♦

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