1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Flying-fox

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
[ 586 ]

FLYING-FOX, or, more correctly, Fox-Bat. The first name is applied by Europeans in India to the fruit-eating bats of the genus Pteropus, which contains more than half the family (Pteropidae). This genus is confined to the tropical regions of the Eastern hemisphere and Australia. It comprises numerous species, a considerable proportion of which occur in the islands of the Malay Archipelago. The flying-foxes are the largest of the bats, the kalong of Java (Pteropus edulis) measuring about a foot in length, and having an expanse of wing-membrane measuring 5 ft. across. Flying-foxes are gregarious, nocturnal bats, suspending themselves during the day head-downwards by thousands from the branches of trees, where with their wings gathered about them, they bear some resemblance to huge shrivelled-up leaves or to clusters of some peculiar fruit. In Batchian, according to Wallace, they suspend themselves chiefly from the branches of dead trees, where they are easily caught or knocked down by sticks, the natives carrying them home in basketfuls. They are then cooked with abundance of spices, and “are really very good eating, something like hare.” Towards evening these bats bestir themselves, and fly off in companies to the village plantations, where they feed on all kinds of fruit, and so numerous and voracious are they that no garden crop has much chance of being gathered which is not specially protected from their attacks. The flying-fox of India (Pteropus medius) is a smaller species, but is found in great numbers wherever fruit is to be had in the Indian peninsula.