flying foxes

Indian flying fox Thermoregulatory behaviors: Visual Guide

Explore our Indian flying foxes (Pteropus medius) thermoregulatory behavior guide.

Pteropus medius are often vulnerable to high temperatures as they have exposed open roosting structures and are devoid of sweat glands, contributing toward their lower thermal tolerance than similar size mammals. Thermal or thermodynamic tolerance is an animal’s ability to balance thermogenesis and heat dissipation under ambient temperatures that exceed the thermoneutral zone. As a result, Pteropus have adopted various thermoregulatory behaviors and strategies, such as increasing the exposed surface area of their wings or enhancing evaporative cooling by salivation. The intensity, frequency and duration of the thermoregulatory behaviors increases in a sequential manner, starting with wing fanning to induce forced convection, followed by clumping and clustering to reduce exposure to solar radiation exposure, lastly, salivation (wrist licking), belly soaking and panting to induce evaporative cooling.

These flying foxes eventually collapse due to hyperthermia when ambient temperatures exceed 43°C. In hotter season, Indian flying foxes spend less time sleeping and resting because they engage in more thermoregulation. This sleep deprivation is known to negatively affect cognitive responses, physiological traits, and overall alertness. Ultimately, continued exposure to extreme heat results in early deaths.

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Over 400 Indian Flying Foxes were killed in Nawab Shah, Sindh, Pakistan.

These bats were believed to be a serious pest for fruits trees of Mango and Banana in Sindh Province of Pakistan. This is not surprising, as orchards represent a concentrated and accessible source of food for flying-foxes, rendered more attractive as a large proportion of their native food trees have been cleared.

The ‘killing’ approach to crop protection has a long history, but know considered as inhumane, expensive and ineffective measure and that the problems were exaggerated when mass shooting of these fruits bats were practiced. This mass killing of flying foxes has serious wildlife conservation implications.

As indicated by endemic Mauritian flying fox Pteropus niger which was perceived to be a major fruit pest. Lobbying of the Government of Mauritius by fruit growers to control the flying fox population resulted in national culls in 2015 and 2016. A loss of c. 38,318 individuals has been reported and the species is now categorized as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

We urge Pakistan government to Stop this inhumane killing of flying foxes and adopt following measures to protect fruits crops and bats, which play vital role in their growth of your fruits crops, for which people are killing them.

Netting of fruit tree is successful in reducing the damage caused by bats. To avoid entangling of bats and fruit damage through the net, it is advised to make the net as conspicuous as possible against the tree. Use of white rather than black nets is recommended.

Installing light bulbs on every tree to illuminate the area and make it less attractive to the bats.

Using plastic flags placed above the tree canopy.

Firecrackers and shotguns to frighten the bats.

Pruning trees could minimize the impact bats have on fruit crops.

Planting native non commercial trees such as figs or mulberries on the boundary of orchard, will reduce the impact of damage by fruit bats.

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