Rousettus aegyptiacus is found throughout Africa south of the Sahara, in Egypt, and on the coastlines of the Arabian Peninsula (Grzimek, 2003). Egyptian rousettes are most common from latitudes 15 degrees north through 37 degrees south. However, they have been found as far as 40 degrees north in southern Turkey. They are also found on each of the Canary Islands, western North Africa, and throughout the Gulf of Guinea (Nogales et al., 2006; Nowak, 1999). (Grzimek, 2003; Nogales, et al., 2006; Nowak, 1999)
Egyptian rousettes are found throughout Africa’s tropical rain forests, tropical deciduous forests, savanna, and Turkey’s Mediterranean scrub forests. Egyptian rousettes have been found in arid biomes; however, they prefer to remain in habitats that provide forest cover, roosting opportunities, and abundant fruit tree growth (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999). (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999)
Egyptian rousettes are medium sized bats with dorsal pelage ranging from dark brown to medium gray. Ventral pelage in both genders is several shades lighter than dorsal coloration, with a collar of pale yellow or orange fur often seen around the neck. There is no color difference between genders; however, males have well-developed stiff hairs along the throat that are more recognizable than in females (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999). Short fur completely covers the head almost to the end of the muzzle, with the exception of the forehead, where the fur is slightly longer. Ears are around the length of the muzzle, with blunt tips and dark coloration when compared to dorsal pelage. Egyptian fruit bats have large eyes adapted for twilight and night vision. Wing membranes are dark brown with short fur extending to the proximal half of the forearm. A claw is present on both the first and second digits, while all other digits have cartilage. Egyptian rousettes have five toes on both hind limbs, each with claws (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999).
Males are typically larger than females with a total body length ranging from 14 to 19.2 cm, while females range from 12.1 to 16.7 cm. Adults may weigh 80 to 170 g and have a wingspan close to 60 cm. The forearm varies between 85 to 101.9 mm in males and 88.1 to 99 mm in females (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999; Grzimek, 2003). (Grzimek, 2003; Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999)
Rousettus aegyptiacus is a polygamous species, with biannual breeding seasons. However, instances of monoestry have been recorded at higher latitudes (Baydemir and Albayrak, 2006; Bernard and Cumming, 1997). Egyptian rousettes observed in latitudes south of Egypt have two distinct peak breeding seasons separated by short periods. The first peak breeding season is from spring through summer, the second is fall through winter. Births occur towards the end of each breeding season (Okia, 1987). (Baydemir and Albayrak, 2006; Bernard and Cumming, 1997; Okia, 1987)
Females give birth to and raise a single pup with each breeding effort, though twins have been recorded occasionally (Korine et al., 1994). Estimated gestation length is 3.5 to 4 months, with synchronized births occurring in breeding colonies (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999; Okia, 1987). Newborn bats are born with deciduous teeth and are altricial - completely naked apart from a thin layer of down along the head and back. Pups are weaned at 6 to 10 weeks with no difference in growth between sexes. Young reach full adult weight and size around 9 months old, about the same time young become independent from their mothers (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999). Sexual maturity is reached on average at 15 months, however, females have been noted to be sexually mature at 5 to 7 months ("Egyptian Fruit Bat", 2006). ("Egyptian Fruit Bat", 2006; Korine, et al., 1994; Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999; Okia, 1987)
After birth Egyptian rousette pups are cared for solely by their mothers for around 9 months. They are capable of flying at 63 to 70 days after birth and stay with their mother until they have reached adult weight and size. Once mature, males leave maternity colonies to join bachelor groups, females join maternity colonies (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999). (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999)
The recorded maximum lifespan of Rousettus aegyptiacus is 22 years in the wild, with a maximum of 25 years in captivity for both males and females. In wild populations, average lifespan is typically 8 to 10 years due to factors such as predation, vitamin D deficiency, calcium-phosphorus imbalance, and osteoproliferation. Longevity in captive bats is also dependent on environmental temperatures and neurological impairment (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999). (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999)
Egyptian rousettes are found in groups of various sizes, ranging from small colonies of 20 to 40 members to large colonies of 9,000. These colonies prefer to roost during the day in dark, slightly humid environments such as cave systems and ruins, though small colonies have been seen roosting in trees (Grzimek, 2003). During breeding seasons, males and females separate; males forming bachelor groups and females forming maternity colonies. Egyptian rousettes roost in close contact with other members of the colony to reduce the influence of temperature fluctuations. Close contact among members of the colony also allows communication with each other throughout the day during roosting. Egyptian rousettes are more active during the late afternoon and into the night, when grooming is more frequent (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999). Individuals leave the day roost close to sunset each evening to forage, returning before sunrise. During summer months longer daylength delays emergence from the roost, suggesting a circadian rhythm synchronized to light-dark cycles. Due to the change in light intensity, Egyptian rousettes have different patterns of activity between summer and winter seasons. Summer seasons are characterized by longer feeding intervals than winter seasons, despite reduced dark periods and delayed roost emergence (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999). (Grzimek, 2003; Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999)
Home range varies in Rousettus aegyptiacus. This species has been noted to migrate southward in the northern regions of their geographic range and forage great distances away from day roosts. Males appear to defend territories, but their size has not been characterized (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999). (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999)
Egyptian rousettes are one of 3 members of the Rousettus genus to use both visual orientation and echolocation. Echolocation in this species is produced through a series of crude, short clicks of the tongue against the side of the mouth (Roberts, 1975; Holland et al., 2004). These short, impulsive-paired clicks assist in navigation in the dark. The frequency range is usually 12 to 70 kHz, with click structure and duration most similar to dolphins. This form of echolocation has evolved independently from the echolocation system used by other echolocating bats, such as vespertilionids (Roberts, 1975; Holland et al., 2004; Holland and Waters, 2007). (Holland and Waters, 2007; Holland, et al., 2004; Roberts, 1975)
Egyptian rousettes are frugivores, preferring to eat the pulp and juice of very ripe fruit. They typically take fruit from trees, such as lilac, mulberry, carob, sycamore, fig, and baobob (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999; Korine et al., 1996; Grzimek, 2003). Egyptian rousettes consume 50 to 150% of total body mass in fruit each night. After selecting fruit, Egyptian rousettes take their fruit and roost close to the feeding tree. Only the pulp and juice is consumed; after thorough chewing, the seeds are spit out. Egyptian rousettes feed while holding the fruit close to the body, as a means of protecting the fruit from being pilfered by other bats. Stealing fruit is common, and these bats are aggressive when feeding (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999). (Grzimek, 2003; Korine, et al., 1996; Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999)
Because of their frugivorous diet, Egyptian rousettes are sometimes considered a threat to fruit crops during the growing season. Plantation owners and farmers often hunt Egyptian rousettes or hire bounty hunters during the flowering and fruiting seasons to reduce the risk of crop damage and profit loss (Fujita and Tuttle, 1991). Egyptian rousettes, like many members of the Family Pteropodidae, are hunted for meat as well. As a result roost population densities have declined (Fujita and Tuttle, 1991). Natural predators have not been described but are likely to include aerial predators, such as falcons, and cave predators, such as snakes and mustelids. Their nocturnal habits, cave roosting, flight, and cryptic coloration all help them to avoid predation. (Fujita and Tuttle, 1991)
Egyptian rousettes are pollinators of many nocturnally flowering trees throughout paleotropical forests. Due to their frugivorous diets, they not only pollinate the flowers of fruit trees but also assist as the primary agent in seed dispersal for many tree species (Fujita and Tuttle, 1991). Egyptian rousettes are carriers for both ectoparasites and endoparasites throughout their geographic range. Ectoparasites that use Egyptian rousettes as hosts include: Spinturnix lateralis, Ancystropus leleupi, Ancystropus zelebori, Ancystropus lateralis, Ancystropus zeleborii, Liponyssus glutinosus, Liponyssus longimanus, Eucampsipoda africanum, Nycteribosca africana, Brachytarsina alluaudi, Eucampsipoda hyrtlii, Nycteribosca diversa, Thaumapsylla brevicep, Nycteribia pedicularia, Nycteribia schmidlii, Eucampsipoda africana, Afrocimex leleupi, Thaumapsylla breviceps, Archaeopsylla metallescens, and Alectorobius camicasi (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999). Endoparasites that are found in Rousettus aegyptiacus include the hemosporidian Plasmodium roussetti and the roundworm Nycteridocoptes rousetti. Outbreaks of rabies are also found in populations of Egyptian fruit bats (Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999). (Fujita and Tuttle, 1991; Kwiecinski and Griffiths, 1999)
Throughout their range, Egyptian rousettes pollinate many commercially valuable fruit trees. This species also works to disperse seeds away from the parent plant, allowing seed germination and spread in unpredictable conditions (Fujita and Tuttle, 1991; Izhaki et al., 1995). (Fujita and Tuttle, 1991; Izhaki, et al., 1995)
Rousettus aegyptiacus is perceived by many fruit farmers to be a pest of fruit crops grown commercially for human production throughout its range, though little evidence supports this and cases are often exaggerated (Albayrak et al., 2008). (Albayrak, et al., 2008)
Rousettus aegyptiacus is considered a species of least concern by the IUCN. However, due to poaching and a negative interactions with commercial farming, there has been a decline in roosting sites (Albayrak et al., 2008). (Albayrak, et al., 2008)
Rachel Cohen (author), Radford University, Karen Francl (editor), Radford University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.
having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.
The process by which an animal locates itself with respect to other animals and objects by emitting sound waves and sensing the pattern of the reflected sound waves.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
an animal that mainly eats fruit
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
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