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Jamaican Fruit-Eating Bat

Jamaican Fruit-Eating Bat

Artibeus jamaicensis

Status: Not Listed

Classification: Mammal

Description

Jamaican fruit-eating bats are a species of leaf-nosed bat characterized by a leaflike protrusion on their snout. The purpose of the nose leaf is unknown, but it’s thought to play 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 hair of the Jamaican fruit-eating bat is brown or black and paler on the underparts. Pale white markings are present above and below the eyes. Jamaican fruit-eating bats have a 16-inch (41-centimeter) wingspan.

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. These 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. 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.

Diet

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. 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.

Behavior

A common practice of this species is to create a tentlike structure made of pinnate palms for protection. This provides protection against the weahter as well as predators.

Life History

A harem of females roosts together with one to two adult males. Females usually give birth once or twice a year at times coinciding with maximum fruit production in the forest. Jamaican fruit-eating bats live up to nine years in the wild.

Conservation

The Jamaican fruit-eating bat's population is stable.

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 tentlike fashion. Tent roosts are used during the day to protect the bats from sun, rain, and predators.

Sources

American Society of Mammalogists

Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

Bat Conservation International

Elmwood Park Zoo

Lubee Bat Conservancy

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Wildscreen Arkive

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