Common Name: Egyptian fruit bat
Scientific Name: Rousettus aegyptiacus
Distribution: Senegal and Egypt south to Africa; Cyprus, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, s Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, S Iraq, S Iran, Pakistan, NW India; islands in the Gulf of Guinea (Sao Tome and Principe); adjacent small islands.
Status: IUCN (2008) Least Concern (LC).
This Egyptian fruit bat is very common throughout its range which extends beyond Egypt – across Northern Africa/Southern Europe to Northern India and islands in the Gulf of Guinea. It is well represented in zoological collections across North America, and is frequently used as an education animal. The Egyptian fruit bat has a wingspan 2 ft (609 mm) and weighs approximately 5 oz (150 g). Egyptian fruit bats reach sexual maturity at about 9 months of age and have a gestation period of approximately 120 days after which a single pup is born.
The Egyptian fruit bat is one of the few megabats that roost in caves – roosting in the twilight area of caves, tombs and temples and sometime in rock crevices, garden trees, and date plantations. They can be found roosting in groups as small as 2 or 3 bats to as many as 2,000. Both male and female bats roost together in a colony. The bats crowd close together, always making body contact, especially with their young ones. These bats usually have only one baby each year, however twins are not uncommon. Mother bats carry their young at first, and then leave them at the roosts while they hunt for fruit. Babies are about 3 months old before they learn to fly on their own. Young ones stay in the same colony as their mothers and fathers for most, if not all, of their lives.
Rousettus bats are the only genus in the group megachiroptera to use echolocation to find their food. The Egyptian fruit bat’s natural food consists of fruits, pollen, nectar and other plant parts. In the course of feeding on plants, these bats are vital in carrying pollen from plant to plant. There are at least 24 species of tropical and subtropical plants that may be consumed. This is crucial for the pollination and seed dispersal of many tropical rainforest trees. In captivity it is fed a variety of commercially available fruits, vegetables, and Lubee’s fruit bat supplement.