Common Name: Large or Malayan Flying Fox
Scientific Name: Pteropus vampyrus
Distribution: Vietnam, Burma, Malaysian Peninsula, Borneo, Philippines, Sumatra, Java, and Lesser Sunda Islands, adjacent small islands including Anak Krakatau. Reports of this species from Cambodia cannot be verified (Kock, 2000).
Status: CITES – Appendix II. IUCN 2008 – Near Threatened (NT).
The Malayan flying fox is one of the world’s largest bats and can attain a wing-span of over six feet (1.8 m) and weigh well over 2.5 lbs (1000 g). There are 7 subspecies with the most threatened being P.v. lanensis (vulnerable) of the Philippines. This species is declining rapidly in the wild due to unsustainable hunting, persecution as a crop pest, and habitat destruction. Many recorded colonies appear confined to offshore islands and this bat has been recorded flying up to 37 miles (60 km) a night to forage on the mainland of Peninsular Malaysia. Whether this is a preference of the bats or they have been driven there by habitat destruction and disturbance is uncertain. They can be found in a range from sea level up to 4,265 ft (1300 m).
The head is usually reddish black or russet, becoming deep gold or orange rather suddenly during the breeding season. The back is black with scattered white hairs. The Malayan flying fox has a gestation period of approximately 180 days and gives birth to a single pup (twins on rare occasions). The young will stay with the mother for 3-4 months, at the end of which time they are nearly mature.
In the wild Malayan flying fox are strictly frugivorous, feeding on fruits, flowers, nectar, pollen and leaves. They help dispersing fruit seeds to distant places such as oceanic islands. Dispersing fruit seeds also enhances reforestation. In captivity, they are fed a variety of fruits and vegetables mixed with Lubee’s fruit bat supplement.