Black flying fox, Gould’s fruit bat, black fruit bat, blackish fruit bat
Pteropus alecto (used to be Pteropus gouldii)
The black flying fox - in common with the other fruit bats - lacks the ability to echolocate.
Wingspan: over 1m; Weight: 500-980g. Speed: it can fly at 35 to 40 km/hr (22 to 25 mph).
This species has black fur, sometimes with reddish-brown or yellowish-brown fur on the back of the neck. The belly can be flecked with grey.
They range from Sulawesi to northern Australia.
Black flying foxes are found in tropical and sub-tropical forests, including mangrove swamps, paperbark forests and occasionally rainforest.
They eat nectar, fruit and the blossom of trees such as eucalypts, paperbarks, mangoes and turpentine trees. Citrus fruits are also eaten.
They are nocturnal. During the day they rest in communal roosts (called "camps") in trees. They wrap their wings tightly around themselves if cold or wet, and flap their outstretched wings when hot.
Black flying fox roosts can have hundreds of thousands of bats in them. The roosts are often on islands or in mangrove areas. They sometimes share their roosts with the grey-headed flying fox (P. poilocephalus). In Kakadu National Park in Australia, the roosts are in dense vegetation either overhanging or adjacent to water, which crocodiles live in. The crocodiles provide protection from predators (but presumably eat the occasional bat themselves…)
They will travel up to 50km to feed. Fruit bats hold and manipulate food with their clawed thumbs. Pteropus fruit bats have particularly large thumbs and claws, which are also used for fighting.
Males establish a small territory on a branch and spend time grooming and displaying their genitalia. The breeding season varies by region. In north Australia most young are born January to March, whilst in south-east Queensland they are born Oct-Nov. The peak of births is at the peak of plant productivity for the area. A single young is born, and is carried by its mother for the first month of its life. After this the young are left behind in the roosts when the mothers are off feeding. At two months old the young can fly, although they do not leave their mother for a further month.
They are not listed by the IUCN.