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Megabats constitute the suborder Megachiroptera within the order Chiroptera (bats). They include the single family Pteropodidae. Often they are called fruit bats or Old World fruit bats.

While the microbats are distributed over all continents (excluding Antarctica), the megabats live only in tropical areas of Asia, Africa and Oceania. Not all megabats are large: The smallest species is just 6 cm long and thus smaller than some microbats. But the gigantic flying foxes[?] are 40 cm long and have a wing span of 150 cm. These giants are almost 1 kg in weight. Most megabats have large eyes enabling them to orientate in the twilight and in the caves. The sense of smell is excellent as well. In contrast to the microbats the megabats can't use echolacation.

Megabats are plant-eaters. They either eat fruits or suck nectar from blossoms. Often the fruits are squashed, and only the fruit juice is consumed. The teeth are adapted to bite through hard fruit skins. Large megabats have to land in order to eat the fruits, while the smaller species are able to stand with flapping wings in front of a blossom or fruit.

All megabats help in the distribution of plants by carrying the fruits with them and spitting the seeds at other places. The nectar-sucking bats pollinate the visited plants. They have a long tongue, that can be inserted into the blossom. The pollen is taken to the next blossom, which will be pollinated. This relationship between plants and bats is called chiropterophily. Examples are the monkey-bread trees[?] of the genus Adansonia and the sausage tree[?] (Kigelia).


The family Pteropodidae is divided into two subfamilies, 42 genera and 173 species. Here is a list of the genera:

  • Subfamily Macroglossinae
    1. Genus Macroglossus (long-tongued fruit bats)
    2. Genus Megaloglossus (African long-tongued fruit bats)
    3. Genus Eonycteris (dawn fruit bats)
    4. Genus Syconycteris (blossom bats)
    5. Genus Melonycteris
    6. Genus Notopteris (long-tailed fruit bats)
  • Subfamily Pteropodinae
    1. Genus Eidolon (straw-coloured fruit bats)
    2. Genus Rousettus (rousette fruit bats)
    3. Genus Boneia
    4. Genus Myonycteris (little collared fruit bats)
    5. Genus Pteropus (flying foxes[?])
    6. Genus Acerodon
    7. Genus Neopteryx
    8. Genus Pteralopex
    9. Genus Styloctenium
    10. Genus Dobsonia (bare-backed fruit bats)
    11. Genus Aproteles
    12. Genus Harpyionycteris (harpy fruit bats)
    13. Genus Plerotes
    14. Genus Hypsignathus (hammer-headed fruit bats)
    15. Genus Epomops (epauleted bats)
    16. Genus Epomophorus (epauleted fruit bats)
    17. Genus Micropteropus (dwarf epauleted bats)
    18. Genus Nanonycteris (little flying cows)
    19. Genus Scotonycteris
    20. Genus Casinycteris
    21. Genus Cynopterus (dog-faced fruit bats)
    22. Genus Megaerops
    23. Genus Ptenochirus
    24. Genus Dyacopterus
    25. Genus Chironax (black-capped fruit bats)
    26. Genus Thoopterus (short-nosed fruit bats)
    27. Genus Sphaerias (mountain fruit bats)
    28. Genus Balionycteris (spotted-winged fruit bats)
    29. Genus Aethalops (pygmy fruit bats)
    30. Genus Penthetor (dusky fruit bats)
    31. Genus Haplonycteris (Fischer's pygmy fruit bats)
    32. Genus Otopteropus
    33. Genus Alionycteris
    34. Genus Latidens
    35. Genus Nyctimene (tube-nosed fruit bats)
    36. Genus Paranyctimene (lesser tube-nosed fruit bats)

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