The Indian flying fox, also known as the greater Indian fruit bat is a species of flying fox found in India. So, is it a fox, or a bat? Well, although it resembles a fox, due to its long snout and reddish coat, our friend is a bat. In fact, it is one of the largest bats in the world! Naturally, the flying skills of this mammal are exceptional, but did you know our flying fox is also an excellent swimmer?
Where can we find the Indian flying fox?
Found in South Central Asia, the bat’s range goes from Pakistan and China to the Maldive Islands. Moreover, it lives in tropical forests and swamps. However, our friend occurs near water bodies as well. Finally, it roosts among banyan, tamarind, and fig trees. Yet, our clever bat selects its habitat depending on food availability.
How does the Indian flying fox look?
Due to its name, this animal has a unique, fox-like appearance. Thus, it is characterized by its reddish-brown coat, long snout, and large eyes. But, someone could really mistake our bat with a fox, if it hasn’t had wings, and sleeping upside down. And, like all bats, this one also has claws, found on the second finger of each wing. Finally, as the largest bat in India, it goes between 6,1 and 8,7 inches in length and weighs up to 3,5 pounds. An impressive wingspan extends up to 4 feet!
Since called a fruit bat, you can guess what is our friend’s favorite meal. However, besides fruits, it will supplement its diet with insects as well as flowers, containing juice and nectar. Moreover, as a generalist feeder, the bat will eat any available fruits. Therefore, with figs at the top of the list, our friend will also eat mango, guava, bananas, and various cultivated fruits.
Just like the spider monkeys, these foxes are also promiscuous. Although they are all mating with each other, males will defend females from the outside intruders. Moreover, as seasonal breeders, they mate between July and October. And, after a gestation of 140 to 150 days, the mother gives birth to 1 or 2 pups. The babies are carried by the mother for 3 weeks, after which they are able to hang their feet independently. Finally, at 11 weeks old they start flying, and after 5 months they are ready to explore the world by themselves.
Did you know the Indian flying bat loses a huge amount of water through its wings when flying? That’s why this animal needs more water than any other mammal this size.
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