Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Giant Golden-crowned Flying Fox

I posted an image a couple of weeks ago of the flying foxes my group saw in the Philippines, but I wanted to share a bit more about them. We encountered this mammal (a lifer for me) in the forest near Subic Bay on the island of Luzon.

The flying foxes (formerly known as fruit bats—they are not foxes, but merely look like foxes) were in their daytime roosts, hanging upside-down. The scene was something I'd only ever seen in nature documentaries or in films set in Southeast Asia. From a distance, it looked as if a whole shipment of dark-brown umbrellas had fallen from a cargo plane and landed in the trees.

These flying foxes are, I believe, giant golden-crowned flying foxes, a species that is endangered in the Philippines. There may have been more than one species present in these roosts. But we only had limited time to see them, scope them, snap a few images or some short video clips, and then we had to split for a lunch date.

A couple of notable things about these animals.
  1. They were BIG! I am not a squeamish person, but seeing a bat this large was pretty gulp-inspiring.
  2. They sleep by day and forage on the wing at night.
  3. They flapped a lot to keep cool in the late-morning sun.
  4. They are fruit-eating bats, not vampire bats (which are native only to the Americas).
  5. As fruit eaters and pollinators, they play an important role in the health of the forests.
  6. Many of the flying fox species are hunted in Asia, mostly for food.
  7. Their faces are dog-like, their eyes surprisingly human.
  8. You could certainly pick out the male bats with no trouble at all.
Here are two short video clips I shot of the giant golden-crowned flying foxes near Subic Bay.

video

video

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7 Comments:

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

There's something about seeing them in motion that makes them so much more real. Egad! It's a good thing they have such pretty faces, being that big and all. Imagine if hammerhead bats were that big...

It looks hot there, really hot.

 
At 5:47 PM, Blogger cyberthrush said...

Man, I wish I could just hang around like that when I get home from work each day! My back feels better just watching them...

 
At 7:20 PM, Blogger Heron said...

Very cool post ! Many thanks for taking us along.

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger Anne said...

WoW. Definitely not Kansas, Dorothy!

 
At 8:14 PM, Blogger jason said...

Very cool! I'm so jealous you got to see them. They're quite handsome even while resting--although I can't appreciate their size from the videos and will take your word on their intimidation factor.

Thanks for sharing the experience with us!

 
At 10:10 PM, Blogger littleorangeguy said...

'You could certainly pick out the male bats with no trouble at all."

You really should write a guidebook to these things.

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

Hope you won't think it's weird that I'm hoping for batjunk photos. It's a Science Chimp thing.

 

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