Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat
Scientific Name: Artibeus jamaicensis
Description: Jamaican fruit-eating bats are a species of leaf-nosed bat characterized by a leaf-like protrusion on their snout. The purpose of the noseleaf is unknown, but it’s thought that it plays a role in echolocation. Although Jamaican fruit-eating bats are capable of using echolocation, they instead rely on their senses of vision and smell to find food. The fur of the Jamaican fruit-eating bat is brown or black and paler on the under parts. Pale white markings are present above and below the eyes. The scientific order of bats, Chiroptera breaks down into two groups: the microchiropterans (echolocating bats) and the megachiropterans (fruit bats). It may seem counterintuitive, but Jamaican fruit-eating bats are a type of microchiropteran, even though they eat fruit!
Size: Jamaican fruit-eating bats have a sixteen-inch wingspan.
Diet: Brightly-colored, fragrant fruits like figs make up the majority of the Jamaican fruit-eating bat’s diet. They also eat leaves, flowers, pollen, and nectar. When Jamaican fruit-eating bats pick a piece of fruit, they fly back to a feeding roost with it, rather than consuming it right away. The juices are eaten, but the rest of the fruit and the seeds are discarded at this new location, making the bats good seed dispersers.
Predation: Barn owls and boa constrictors are known predators of Jamaican-fruit eating bats. Other raptors and arboreal snakes and mammals may also eat these bats.
Typical Lifespan: Jamaican fruit-eating bats live up to nine years in the wild.
Habitat: Jamaican fruit-eating bats are found mostly in humid tropical forests, but they are also found in drier habitats. They even frequent gardens and agricultural areas where fruit and flowers are abundant.
U.S. Range: Jamaican fruit-eating bats are a tropical species. The northern part of their range includes the Florida Keys, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Life History and Reproduction: A harem of females roosts together with one to two adult males. Females usually give birth once to twice per year at times coinciding with maximum fruit production in the forest.
Fun Fact: Jamaican fruit-eating bats build unusual roost sites. They chew along the veins of a broad leaf, causing it to fold over in a tent-like fashion. Tent roosts are used during the day to protect the bats from sun, rain, and predators.
Conservation Status: Stable.
Bat Conservation International
BATS Magazine article "The World of Tent-making Bats"
Elmwood Park Zoo
Lubee Bat Conservancy
American Society of Mammalogists--Mammalian Species
IUCN Red List