|by Marcia Malory|
Flying foxes, also known as fruit bats or megabats, are bats that belong to the suborder Megachiroptera.
All living flying foxes belong to the family Pteropodidae.
Flying foxes are found in the eastern hemisphere and are therefore sometimes known as old world fruit bats. They tend to live in tropical and subtropical regions. They are native to the eastern Mediterranean, southern and central Asia, Africa, Australia and islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, including Indonesia and Madagascar.
In general, fruit bats are larger than echolocating bats. However, their size ranges considerably.
Pygmy fruit bats, may be between 2.4 and 2.8 inches (6 and 7 centimeters) long.
The largest of all bats are fruit bats. The heaviest bat is the giant golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon jubatus), which can weigh up to 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms). The Malaysian flying fox(Pteropus vampyrus) has the largest wingspan of any bat. It can have a wingspan of up to 6 feet (1.83 meters), possibly longer.
Flying foxes have big eyes, long snouts and small ears.
Unlike echolocating bats, flying foxes depend mostly on their eyesight and their sense of smell for navigation.
Fruit bats tend to live in forests. Many of them roost in low trees and bushes.
Some flying foxes may have coloration that allows them to camouflage themselves in the forest. If they wrap their wings around themselves, they look like dead leaves.
Flying foxes may also roost in caves, on the walls of cliffs or in buildings.
These bats eat fruit or nectar.
Those that eat fruit have teeth allow them to bite through the skin of fruit and then crush the fruit. Those that live on nectar can have very long tongues.
Flying foxes play an important role in pollination and seed dispersal in tropical regions of the world. Today, many of these bats are threatened with extinction. The reduction in flying fox populations threatens the Earth's rainforests.