Animal Database

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Animal Database
Animal Database
Large Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus)
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Chiroptera
Family Pteropodidae
Genus Pteropus

Pteropus, belonging to the suborder, Megachiroptera, is a genus of megabats includes the largest bats in the world. They are commonly known as the fruit bats or flying foxes among other colloquial names. They live in the tropics and subtropics of Asia (including the Indian subcontinent), Australia, East Africa, and a number of remote oceanic islands in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. At least 60 extant species are in this genus.

The oldest ancestors of the genus Pteropus to be unearthed appear in the fossil record almost exactly as they are today, the only notable differences being early flight adaptations such as a tail for stabilizing. The oldest megachiropteran is dated at around 35 million years ago, but the preceding gap in the fossil record makes their true lineage unknown.

Characteristically, all species of flying foxes only feed on nectar, blossoms, pollen, and fruit, which explains their limited tropical distribution. They do not possess echolocation, a feature which helps the other suborder of bats, the microbats, locate and catch prey such as insects in midair. 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.

Physical Characteristics[]

The large flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus) is generally reported as the largest Pteropus, but a few other species may match it, at least in some measurements. The large flying fox has a wingspan up to 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) and five individuals weighed 0.65–1.1 kg (1.4–2.4 lb). Even greater weights, up to 1.6 kg (3.5 lb) and 1.45 kg (3.2 lb), have been reported for the Indian flying fox (Pteropus giganteus) and great flying fox (Pteropus neohibernicus), respectively. The black-bearded flying fox (Pteropus melanopogon) is massive and may be heavier than all other megabats, but exact weight data are not available. Comparably, no full wingspan measurements are available for the great flying fox, but with a forearm length up to 206 mm (8.1 in), it may even surpass the large flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus) where the forearm is up to 200 mm (7.9 in). Outside this genus, the giant golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon jubatus) is the only bat with similar dimensions.

Most flying fox species are considerably smaller and generally weigh less than 600 g (21 oz). The smallest, the masked flying fox (Pteropus personatus), Temminck's flying fox (Pteropus temminckii), Guam flying fox (Pteropus tokudae), and dwarf flying fox (Pteropus woodfordi), all weigh less than 170 g (6.0 oz).

The pelage is long and silky with a dense underfur. No tail is present. As the name suggests, the head resembles that of a small fox because of the small ears and large eyes. Females have one pair of mammae located in the chest region. Ears are simple (long and pointed) with the outer margin forming an unbroken ring (a defining characteristic of megabats). The toes have sharp, curved claws.

Primate Theory[]

  • see Flying Primate Hypothesis.

Some scientists have proposed that flying foxes are descended from primates rather than bats and that mammalian flight ability has evolved more than once. This theory is not accepted by most modern zoologists and it goes against DNA evidence.


Pteropus alecto species group
 Black Flying Fox (Temminck, 1837) (Pteropus alecto)
  Torresian Flying Fox (Pteropus alecto) (initially was described as separate species)
Pteropus caniceps species group
 Ashy-headed Flying Fox (Gray, 1870) (Pteropus caniceps)
Pteropus chrysoproctus species group
 Silvery Flying Fox (Gray, 1844) (Pteropus argentatus)
 Moluccan Flying Fox (Temminck, 1837) (Pteropus chrysoproctus)
 Makira Flying Fox (K. Andersen, 1908) (Pteropus cognatus)
 Banks Flying Fox (Felten & Kock, 1972) (Pteropus fundatus)
 Solomons Flying Fox (Gray, 1870) (Pteropus rayneri)
 Rennell Flying Fox (Troughton, 1929) (Pteropus rennelli)
Pteropus conspicillatus species group
 Spectacled Flying Fox (Gould, 1850) (Pteropus conspicillatus)
 Ceram Fruit Bat (Peters, 1867) (Pteropus ocularis)
Pteropus livingstonii species group
 Aru Flying Fox (Peters, 1867) (Pteropus aruensis)
 Kei Flying Fox (Peters, 1867) (Pteropus keyensis)
 Livingstone's Fruit Bat (Gray, 1866) (Pteropus livingstonii)
 Black-bearded Flying Fox (Peters, 1867) (Pteropus melanopogon)
Pteropus mariannus species group
 Okinawa Flying Fox (Gray, 1870) (Pteropus loochoensis)
 Mariana Fruit bat (Desmarest, 1822) (Pteropus mariannus)
 Pelew Flying Fox (K. Andersen, 1908) (Pteropus pelewensis)
 Kosrae Flying Fox (Peters, 1883) (Pteropus ualanus)
 Yap Flying Fox (K. Andersen, 1908) (Pteropus yapensis)
Pteropus melanotus species group
 Black-eared Flying Fox (Blyth, 1863) (Pteropus melanotus)
Pteropus molossinus species group
 Lombok Flying Fox (Dobson, 1878) (Pteropus lombocensis)
 Caroline Flying Fox (Temminck, 1853) (Pteropus molossinus)
 Rodrigues Flying Fox (Dobson, 1878) (Pteropus rodricensis)
Pteropus neohibernicus species group
 Great Flying Fox (Peters, 1876) (Pteropus neohibernicus)
Pteropus niger species group
 Aldabra Flying Fox (True, 1893) (Pteropus aldabrensis)
 Mauritian Flying Fox (Kerr, 1792) (Pteropus niger)
 Madagascan Flying Fox (É. Geoffroy, 1803) (Pteropus rufus)
 Seychelles Fruit Bat (Kerr, 1792) (Pteropus seychellensis)
 Pemba Flying Fox (Matschie, 1909) (Pteropus voeltzkowi)
Pteropus personatus species group
 Bismarck Masked Flying Fox (Peters, 1867) (Pteropus capistratus)
 Masked Flying Fox (Temminck, 1825) (Pteropus personatus)
 Temminck's Flying Fox (Peters, 1867) (Pteropus temminckii)
Pteropus poliocephalus species group
 Big-eared Flying Fox (Peters, 1867) (Pteropus macrotis)
 Geelvink Bay Flying Fox (Stein, 1933) (Pteropus pohlei)
 Grey-headed Flying Fox (Temminck, 1825) (Pteropus poliocephalus)
Pteropus pselaphon species group
 Chuuk Flying Fox (Hombron & Jacquinot, 1842) (Pteropus insularis)
 Temotu Flying Fox (Sanborn, 1930) (Pteropus nitendiensis)
 †Large Palau Flying Fox (K. Andersen, 1908) (Pteropus pilosus)
 Bonin Flying Fox (Lay, 1829) (Pteropus pselaphon)
 †Guam Flying Fox (Tate, 1934) (Pteropus tokudae)
 Insular Flying Fox (Quoy & Gaimard, 1830) (Pteropus tonganus)
 †?Vanikoro Flying Fox (Peters, 1869) (Pteropus tuberculatus)
 New Caledonia Flying Fox (Jouan, 1863) (Pteropus vetulus)
Pteropus samoensis species group
 Vanuatu Flying Fox (Gray, 1870) (Pteropus anetianus)
 Samoa Flying Fox (Peale, 1848) (Pteropus samoensis)
Pteropus scapulatus species group
 Gilliard's Flying Fox (Van Deusen, 1969) (Pteropus gilliardorum)
 Lesser Flying Fox (Sanborn, 1931) (Pteropus mahaganus)
 Little Red Flying Fox (Peters, 1862) (Pteropus scapulatus)
 Dwarf Flying Fox (Thomas, 1888) (Pteropus woodfordi)
Pteropus subniger species group
 Admiralty Flying Fox (Thomas, 1894) (Pteropus admiralitatum)
 †Dusky Flying Fox (Dobson, 1878) (Pteropus brunneus)
 Ryukyu Flying Fox (Temminck, 1825) (Pteropus dasymallus)
 Nicobar Flying Fox (Miller, 1902) (Pteropus faunulus)
 Gray Flying Fox (É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1810) (Pteropus griseus)
 Ontong Java Flying Fox (Troughton, 1931) (Pteropus howensis)
 Small Flying Fox (Temminck, 1853) (Pteropus hypomelanus)
 Ornate Flying Fox (Gray, 1870) (Pteropus ornatus)
 Little Golden-mantled Flying Fox (Miller, 1911) (Pteropus pumilus)
 Philippine Gray Flying Fox (K. Andersen, 1908) (Pteropus speciosus)
 †Small Mauritian Flying Fox (Kerr, 1792) (Pteropus subniger)
Pteropus vampyrus species group
 Indian Flying Fox (Brünnich, 1782) (Pteropus giganteus)
 Andersen's Flying Fox (K. Andersen, 1908) (Pteropus intermedius)
 Lyle's Flying Fox (K. Andersen, 1908) (Pteropus lylei)
 Large Flying Fox (Linnaeus, 1758) (Pteropus vampyrus)
Incertae sedisSmall Samoan Flying Fox (Helgen, Helgen, & Wilson, 2009) (Pteropus allenorum)
 †Large Samoan Flying Fox (Helgen, Helgen, & Wilson, 2009) (Pteropus coxi)