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Edition No. 18

Edition No. 18

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The Egyptian Fruit Bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus)

Edition No. 18

Edition No. 18

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Product Description

IssueCodeQuantitySerial Number RangeCompany
05/20090109CE60060.145.000 - 60.145.599FutureCards

The Egyptian Fruit Bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus)

The Egyptian fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus), popularly known as the flying fox, is the only type of bat found in Cyprus that belongs to the suborder of megachiroptera and is consequently bigger than the rest.

Cyprus is the only European country to host wild populations of this species, making it a very important example of Cypriot fauna.

It is also the only bat on the island that feeds on fruit while the others consume insects. For this reason, flying foxes were mercilessly persecuted in Cyprus and in other countries in the past because they were considered harmful to fruit plantations. As a result of this and the destruction of their habitats, there has been a drastic decline in the numbers of Egyptian fruit bats in recent years. In reality, by consuming only ripe and overripe fruit, this type of bat contributes to reducing the occurrence of harmful insects and to the dispersal of seeds in the countryside.

Flying foxes form large colonies in the countries of Africa and Asia while Cyprus represents the westernmost area in which they are found. They live mainly in caves or deep hollows in large rocks and on cliffs.

Their diet varies according to the season and, consequently, the food available. In Cyprus, flying foxes do not hibernate in winter, unlike other types of bat on the island, and thus require a year-round food supply. They feed on a variety of fruit including medlars, figs, grapes, mulberries, laurel berries, carob, dates, etc., and they have also been observed feeding on nectar from tree blossoms and on leaves when no fruit is available.

They live in large colonies of anything from 50 to 1,000 bats in a single roost.

Like other types of bat in Cyprus, the flying fox is now an endangered species. The persecution it suffered for decades along with other bats has reduced its populations to marginal levels. This was because farmers considered it harmful, claiming that it damaged their fruit which was thereby rendered unfit for sale.

When Cyprus proposed to the European Union that the flying fox be considered a priority species, it was subsequently included in Annex II of the EC Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC. This means that it is not only protected by law but that Cyprus is obliged to designate special protection areas for the species, including its roosting locations. It is also protected under national legislation, by which the killing, harassment or possession of bats is punishable with a heavy fine or imprisonment or both.