Mauritius Fruit Bat

Pteropus niger

Photo: Dr. Philips Edwards

Mauritius Fruit Bat

Species type: Mammal
Species (Common name): Mauritius Fruit Bat or Mauritian Flying Fox, Greater Mascarene Flying Fox, Mauritian Flying Fox
Scientific name: Pteropus niger
Endemism: Endemic to Mauritius though it was originally found in Réunion as well
Conservation status: Vulnerable

Description: The Mauritius fruit is a large bat with a wingspan that reaches 80 cm. It has golden fur. It is mainly nocturnal but is occasionally seen in the day. They roost in the forest in tall trees in areas sheltered from exposure to full sunlight. They feed mainly on fruit and flowers but can also eat leaves.

Fun facts:

  1. Bats are the only native mammal species found on the Mascarenes as their ancestors were able to disperse from mainland locations. Other (non-flying) mammals could only have arrived on floating debris and would have died of thirst or starvation before they could complete the long journey.
  2. The species became extinct from Réunion in the early eighteenth century, probably due to hunting. However, in 2007 a small population was identified on the island. It is assumed that these bats were blown over from Mauritius but the population did not establish. There have been other occasional sightings in Réunion.
  3. The Mauritius fruit bat may have also been present in Rodrigues and reported by Leguat in 1691-1692 (Leguat 1708).
  4. The Mauritius fruit bat is vulnerable to major cyclones which result in heavy population losses followed by a slow recovery. It is likely that the reported increase in fruit bat numbers over recent years is because there have been no significant cyclones since 2007.
  5. The fruit bat turns to cultivated fruits when native fruits are in short supply, mainly in the dry season (September to December).