Bio Facts: Bat, Ruwenzori Long-hair Fruit
Ruwenzori Long-hair Fruit Bat
Historically, this species of fruit bat has had a very odd distribution that appears to be of a relic type. Currently, it is restricted to a few mountain massifs in eastern Africa to the East Coast of Madagascar.
Large brown eyes, a second claw on the wings and funnel-shaped ears are obvious characteristics of fruit bats. Other distinguishing features include powerfully clawed legs, broad wings, and blunt simple teeth. This species is a medium-sized bat with long, shaggy hair with a fine, wooly underfur. Their average weight is 145 grams. The absence of cone cells in the retina suggests that they are insensitive to color.
In the wild, 7-8 years is considered to be an older adult. In captivity, they have been known to survive for up to 20 years.
About 1 year of age
In the wild, this species feeds exclusively on a wide variety of very soft fruits and nectar. In captivity, it is fed slices of oranges, apples and carrots supplemented with an energy-rich base.
A very social bat species with colonies numbering in the hundreds and possibly thousands.
Vocalizations seem to be used to reinforce cohesion within the roost and to maintain contact between individuals. Lengthy self-grooming sessions are conducted daily with scratching of the body and ears with the claws and licking of the wings and face.
When they fight, they bite and strike out with their clawed thumbs.
The males initiate sexual behavior. This species of fruit bat appears to breed throughout the year, although there may be one or several peaks in reproduction associated with rainy seasons and/or food abundance. There also appears to be some segregation of pregnant and nursing females near the entrance of the cave.
After a gestation period of 100-125 days, one young is born with twins occurring occasionally. Young are born with their eyes closed, ears folded and with some hair on the back and head. They can open their eyes at about 10 days. Young are carried for 5 to 6 weeks and suckled for about 4 months. Most are able to fly on their own in 9-10 weeks. The mother will likely remain near for some time.
Using echolocation, a series of clicks made by the rear portion of the tongue, this species of fruit bat is able to navigate in total darkness.
After rodents, bats are the most numerous mammals on earth (175 genera with 800 species).
This is one of the few species of fruit bats with the ability to echolocate.
hiroptera comes from the Greek words heir, meaning, “hand,” and pteron, meaning “wing.” In France bats are known as chauve-souris, or “bald-mouse.” Germans call them fledermaus, or “flutter-mouse.” And, the Aztecs called them qui ichpapalotl, or “butterfly-mouse.” The Modern English word “bat” comes from the Middle English word bakke, meaning, “to flutter.”
Because of their strange shape and nocturnal habits, bats have long been considered harbingers of evil and destruction. In some cultures, however, just the opposite is true; bats are welcomed and even revered.
Bats flying close to the ground are thought to signify an approaching storm. This superstition may hold some truth, as bat’s ears are sensitive to changes in air pressure. As a storm approaches, the air pressure naturally changes, and bats fly lower to the ground to avoid these variances.
Other superstitions include:
Bats flying indoors were thought to predict rain.
A bat hanging in a tree was thought to drive away locusts.
An English author wrote in 1816 that when a bat is observed to rise and then fall again, it is the witches’ hour when evil ones have power over every human being.
In Finland and Babylonia, people believed that bats are souls of the dead. Also in Finland, people thought the soul often takes the shape of a bat while the body of the person sleeps. If approached by a bat, one was to accept it as the soul of a friend or family member.
A bat flying around the outside of a house three times was thought to be a sign of immediate death, and if it flew into the house, many disasters were sure to follow.
To dream of bats meant that danger is in one’s future.
In Eastern Europe it was believed that vampires could change into bats.
Germans believed that the heart of a bat would guard you against evil spirits.
In most Oriental countries, the bat is a symbol of luck and light. In Japan, the bat is known as komori and is a symbol of happiness and prosperity. The bat, peach, chrysanthemum and endless knot together form a very common Chinese symbol that means, “May good fortune and a long life be everlasting.” Five bats represent five blessings: peace, love of virtue, natural death, old age and riches.
A Cherokee tale tells how the bat came into being. The animals challenged the birds to a game of ball. The game was about to begin when two tiny four-footed creatures came to the captain of the bird team and asked if they could be allowed to play with the birds. The birds asked why they didn’t play on the animal team. The creatures replied that they had been turned away since they were so small. The bird captain felt sorry for them and agreed to let them play for the birds, offering to make wings for them. Using a groundhog skin that had covered a ceremonial drum and tiny cane splints, the birds fashioned wings and attached them to the small animals. Thus the bat was created, and the birds won the ball game.
In Bohemia, it was believed that if one carried the right eye of a bat it would make one invisible.
A superstition from the Middle Ages suggest that if a bat became entangled in a woman’s hair, the only way to remove it is to have a man cut off all the woman’s hair.
Another European superstition suggests that if you tie the heart of a bat to your sleeve, you will be dealt good cards. Another one claims that burning incense over a bat buried at a crossroads is a powerful love potion. Along those same lines, a woman who had little luck in attracting the man of her choice need only slip a few drops of bat blood into her beloved’s beer. After drinking it, his desire would be rekindled and he would be drawn to the woman.
Locally abundant in the areas where it lives; however, worldwide bat populations are declining due to environment and physical disturbances. Many countries now have legislation protecting bats and roost sites.
Jacksonville Zoo History:
The first ones arrived at the Jacksonville Zoo in September 1998.