Common Name: Rodrigues flying fox or Golden bat
Scientific Name: Pteropus rodricensis
Distribution: Rodrigues Island, Round Island near Mauritius (Mascarene Isls)
Status: CITES – Appendix II. IUCN 2008 – Critically Endangered (CR) B1ab(iii)c(iv); extinct on Round Island
The Rodrigues fruit bat is endemic to the island of Rodrigues in the Western Indian Ocean, and is one of the most endangered species of bats, in large part because of habitat loss. This species faces severe threats annually in the form of climatic disasters like tropical cyclones. During heavy storms many animals are blown out to sea where they die and habitats are destroyed, depriving the surviving bats of food and shelter. The Rodrigues fruit bat was on the brink of extinction in 1976 when Jersey Preservation Trust (now called Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust) brought 25 bats into captivity for a captive breeding project. Today the species is part of an international Species Survival Program (SSP) with 16 North American institutions participating. The species is making a dramatic recovery in its natural habitat on the island of Rodrigues with the present wild population being approximately 20,000, although cyclonic damage threatens this recovery still.
The Rodrigues fruit bat is a small sized fruit bat with a wingspan of 3 ft (0.9 m) and weighing 13 oz (350g). The Rodrigues bat is thickly furred with the most of the coat being dark chestnut brown in color. A mantle of golden brown hair covers the head, neck, and shoulders and it is often referred to as the “Golden Bat”. There can be considerable variation between the shades of colors of the bats and the size of the mantle.
The Rodrigues fruit bats range is limited to the island of Rodrigues. The Mascarene Islands (Rodrigues, Mauritius, and Reunion) are approximately 995 miles (1600 km) east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Currently, the Rodrigues fruit bat is confined to a few locations including Cascade Pigeon Valley, a small wooded valley just north of the capital of Rodrigues. The bat is dependent on large, contiguous tracts of woodland, using mature trees for roosts and protection from the frequent cyclones. These trees also provide the bats diet of fruits and flowers. Rodrigues fruit bats are colonial and highly gregarious. Groups may separate into harems, with one male and up to eight females, or as mixed-sex sub-adult groups of up to 15 bats. Within the confines of the colony, many bats may also be solitary, which are typically males. The Rodrigues fruit bat reaches maturity at one year of age, has a gestation period of 150 days and produces a single offspring.
Their diet includes flowers, nectar, and fruit. Food is usually crushed in the mouth allowing the juices to be swallowed and the pulp to be spit out. Major food items include mango, figs, and tamarind pods.
You can play a direct role in helping this species! Visit our wish list page to support the Rodrigues Environmental Education Program.