So-called flying foxes are actually very large bats. The Indian flying fox (Pteropus giganteus) is apparently the world’s largest bat weighing in at 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg). It gets its name from the fact that its head resembles that of a fox. Besides India, they are also found in Tibet, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal.
Indian flying foxes are nocturnal, and they sleep hanging in trees during the day. They feed mostly on fruit, but they also eat nectar, blossoms, and pollen. Bats are mammals, and the mothers carry their young, called pups, until they are weaned. Since they don’t catch insects in the air like the smaller bats, they don’t have echolocation abilities. There are other ways to find fruit and blossoms which don’t move. The Indian flying fox has a keen sense of smell and eyesight. They will sometimes grab the fruit in flight, or they may hang upside down on a limb and pick the fruit using the claws on the ends of their wings.
Since they don’t rely on insect food, the flying foxes grow much larger than their insect-eating cousins. Just as the insect-eaters have a purpose to keep insects under control, the flying foxes also have a purpose. As they pass from fruit tree to fruit tree, they pollinate the plants and also scatter seeds. Each of them plays a role in God’s plan for life.
© Roland Earnst