Facts on Fruit Bats for Children

By Zora Hughes
Fruit bat flying.
Fruit bat flying.

Fruit bats are significantly different from the cave-dwelling, tiny-eyed bats of North America. These large bats generally dwell in trees rather than caves, prefer fruit over insects and have a fox-like face, according to the National Wildlife Federation. Teach your kids about fruit bats before a trip to a zoo or wildlife center to give them an insight into the world of these fascinating creatures.

Fruit Bat Characteristics

Fruit bats hanging upside-down in tree.
Fruit bats hanging upside-down in tree.

Fruit bats are much larger than the microbats found in the United States. Also referred to as megabats or flying foxes, fruit bats have a thick furry coat, long snouts, large eyes and pointy ears. Some species of fruit bats can have a wingspan of up to 6 feet, according to the National Wildlife Federation. Fruit bats also have exceptional vision due to their large eyes, which help them look for food. Most, like their smaller microbat cousins are nocturnal, sleeping or resting upside down for most of the day and going out for food at night.

Where They Live

Colony of fruit bats in trees.
Colony of fruit bats in trees.

Fruit bats are found primarily in tropical regions of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Australia. While a few fruit bat species dwell in caves, the majority live in trees. In fact, most fruit bat species live together in large groups known as colonies, each with its own tree, or "camp," according to the San Diego Zoo. Dominant male fruit bats dwell at the top of the camp tree, while females and younger male bats live on the lower branches.

What They Eat

Fruit bat eating an orange.
Fruit bat eating an orange.

Fruit is the main source of food for fruit bats, hence the name. After the sun goes down, fruit bats fly off in search of fleshy fruits such as bananas, mangoes, figs, apricots and avocados. Rather than eating the entire fruit, fruit bats use their sharp teeth to bite off chunks, squish the fruit in their mouths to get out all the juices and spit out the leftover, according to the National Park of American Samoa. Fruit bats also drink the nectar found in flowers, as well as tree sap.

More Fruit Bat Facts

Bat flying.
Bat flying.

There are 173 different species of fruit bats around the world. Fruit bats, like other bats, are the only mammals in the world that can fly. Unlike other bats, however, most fruit bats do not rely on echolocation to communicate and locate food. Instead, they use their naturally large eyes and long snouts to spot and smell the fruit for which they are looking, according to Barbara Schmidt-French in her book, "Do Bats Drink Blood?" Fruit bats are also important to the environment, helping to pollinate flowers as they fly from one to the other to consume the flower nectar. In addition, the fruit seeds they spit out onto the forest floor may grow into more fruit trees and plants.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.