Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Straw-colored fruit bat

(Eidolon helvum)

Habitat and Distribution: Found in African lowland rainforests and savannas. Populations migrate from West African forests to savanna zones during the rainy season.             

Size: About 5.6-8.4 inches long; 0.5-0.7 pounds; wingspan up to 30 inches. Males are larger than females.

Wild Diet: Fruits like dates, mangos, paw paws, avocado pears, figs, passion fruit, custard apples and loquats; also baobab flowers and other plants.

Predators: Humans; possibly owls, eagles, snakes, buzzards, and civets

Lifespan: About 15 years in the wild; about 22 years in zoos

Reproduction: Straw-colored fruit bats breed when the dry season begins (between April and June), such that young are later weaned at the time of greatest food availability. Because of delayed implantation, gestation can last up to 9 months even though embryonic development takes only 4 months. In the spring, females deliver a single offspring that weighs 1.4-1.7 oz and is unable to fly. Females care for their young until they are able to forage on their own.

Behavior: Straw-colored fruit bats forage in trees and roost in large colonies of thousands to even millions. Within these colonies, they form tight clusters of up to 100 individuals. When migrating, they disperse into small groups. Although females give birth while living in large colonies, there are no reports of cooperative care.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Near Threatened

Straw-colored fruit bats are overharvested for food and medicine and threatened by deforestation.

Did you know?

  • Straw-colored fruit bats are integral to their ecosystems because they act as pollinators and seed dispersers.
  • They typically roost in tall trees, but some colonies have been found in caves.