COMMON NAME: eidolon, straw-colored fruit bat
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Chiroptera
FAMILY: Pteropodidae (wings)
GENUS SPECIES: Eidolon (image or phantom) helvum (light yellow)


DESCRIPTION: This is a large yellow-brown bat with long, narrow, dark brown wings. The hair on the neck is longer and woollier than on the body.
SIZE: Approximately 1676-2591 mm (66-102 in.); wingspan about 762 mm (30.48 in.)
WEIGHT: 230-350 g (8.2-12.5 oz)
DIET: Mostly fruit, including mango, guava, papaya, and banana; also leaves, flowers, pollen, and nectar
GESTATION: Gestation lasts approximately 9 months (4 months for delayed implantation and 5 months for development); one offspring per birth
SEXUAL MATURITY: Approximately 2 years
LIFE SPAN: Up to 21 years in managed setting
RANGE: Throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa; parts of Arabian Peninsula; Madagascar
HABITAT: Inhabits forests and savannas
POPULATION: GLOBAL Unknown, common through range
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed


1. There are over 1,000 different species of bats, and they occur on every continent except Antarctica. Only the mammal order Rodentia numbers more species.
2. Bats are divided into two groups: Megabats (also known as flying foxes) and Microbats. Flying foxes received this name from their characteristic long muzzles. Eidolon (pronounced I-doe-lon) bats are classified as megabats.
3. Megabats only make up around 10% of bat species, and are exclusive to Africa, Asia, Australia, and surrounding islands in the Indian Ocean.
4. Eidolon bats roost in bare trees, lofts, and caves, and sometimes occur in enormous colonies of 100,00-1,000,000 individuals, often near busy villages and towns.
5. These bats cannot echolocate. Instead, they use their excellent sense of sight and smell to locate their food.
6. The scientific name for bats, Chiroptera, means, "hand-wing". This refers to the fact that their wings are made from folds of skin stretched between their elongated finger and hand bones and connected to their hind legs and sides.
7. Eidolons have very long and narrow wings, which make them well suited for flying incredibly long distances.
8. Bats "perch" on branches upside down by locking the tendons in their feet and using their curved claws, which allows them to hook onto perching surfaces. Bats have to actually expend energy to "unhook" their feet.


Bats are very important seed dispersers and pollinators of flowers, trees, and shrubs. In fact, up to 90% of rainforest growth is attributed to the seeds from bat droppings. Even managed crops such as bananas, avocados, vanillas, and peaches are dependent upon bats for pollination.

As a source of prey, bats are important to animals such as snakes and birds of prey.

Bats are also important as a food source to humans in some areas.

Bats in captivity serve as important models for research in endangered species management and conservation education. They also hold immeasurable value as participants in scientific and medical studies.

Although this species as a whole is not threatened, destruction of their habitat due to population growth and forest clearing in Africa could change their status very rapidly. The fact that these animals are seen as pests in fruit orchards coupled with the fact that they are eaten quite readily in some areas leads to heavy hunting pressures.

Bats are also the victims of a misinformed public. There are many misconceptions about the spread of rabies caused by bats. Less than one-half of one percent of bats contracts rabies, and since bats do not readily attack humans, they pose little threat to people who do not handle them. In fact, most bats will spend their entire lives without ever coming into contact with humans. However, if a sick or injured bat is found on the ground, a trained adult wearing leather gloves should handle it.


Fenton, B. Bats. New York: Facts on File, 1992.

Gotch, A. F. Mammals - Their Latin Names Explained - A Guide to Animal Classification. Poole, United Kingdom: Blanford Press, 1979.

Hill, J. E., and J. D. Smith. Bats - A Natural History. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1984.

Mickleburgh, S. P., et al. 1992. Old World Fruit Bats: An Action Plan for Their Conservation. Intern'l Union for Conservation of Natural Resources, Switzerland.

Nowak, R M. 1994. Walker's Bats of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.

Parker, S. P. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol. II, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990.

Bat Conservation International. www.batcon.org

Lubee Foundation. www.lubee.com