Mariana fruit bat
|Mariana fruit bat|
|Mariana Fruit Bat range|
Pteropus keraudren Quoy & Gaimard, 1824
The Mariana fruit bat (Pteropus mariannus), also known as the Mariana flying fox, and the fanihi in Chamorro, is a megabat found only on Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and Ulithi (an atoll in the Caroline Islands). Habitat loss has driven it to endangered status, and it is listed as threatened by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Poachers and food hunters, other animals, and natural causes have led to the decline.
The Mariana fruit bat is a mid-sized bat which weighs 0.6 to 1.1 lb (270 to 500 g), and has a forearm length of 5.3 to 6.1 in (13.4 to 15.6 cm). Males of the species are slightly larger in size than the females. Their abdomens are colored from black to brown, while also having gray hairs. The mantle and the neck are a brighter brown to golden brown color and the head varies from brown to black. Their ears are rounded and their eyes large, giving them the features of a canid, so many megabats are called flying foxes.
The bat is considered a culinary delicacy by Chamorros. Eating fruit bats is linked to a neurological disease called lytico-bodig disease. Paul Alan Cox from the Hawaiian National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kalaheo, and Oliver Sacks from Albert Einstein College in New York, found the bats consumed large quantities of cycad seeds, and - like some eagles, which were shown to build up levels of the pesticide DDT in fat tissue - probably accumulate the toxins to dangerous levels.
Johnson and Wiles described roosting behavior: "Sarigan's population differs from those of larger islands in the archipelago by usually having smaller roost sizes, typically 3-75 bats, and large numbers of solitary bats that at times comprise up to half of the population. Colonies and smaller aggregations were composed primarily of harems with multiple females, whereas a nearly equal sex ratio occurred among solitary animals."
Pteropus mariannus has three subspecies:
- P. m. mariannus (Guam Mariana fruit bat)
- P. m. paganensis (Pagan Mariana fruit bat)
- P. m. ulthiensis (Ulithi Mariana fruit bat)
- Allison, A., Bonaccorso, F., Helgen, K. & James, R. (2008). "Pteropus mariannus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 3.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
- "Mariana fruit Bat (=Mariana flying fox) (Pteropus mariannus mariannus)", U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Environmental Conservation Online System
- "Bat-Eating Linked to Neurological Illness", National Geographic, June 13, 2003
- Johnson, Nathan C.; Wiles, Gary J. (October 2004). "Population size and natural history of Mariana fruit bats (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) on Sarigan, Mariana Islands". Pacific Science (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press) 58 (4): 585.
- Maxfield, Barbara (2009-07-22). Guam National Wildlife Refuge Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan Released for Public Review and Comment. US Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
- Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), Johns Hopkins University Press, 2,142 pp. (Available from Johns Hopkins University Press, 1-800-537-5487 or (410) 516-6900, or at http://www.press.jhu.edu).
- "Endangered Species in the Pacific Islands: Mariana Fruit Bats / Fanihi", U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Pacific Islands Fish & Wildlife Office