All it takes is one glance to know that the giant golden-crowned flying fox bat (Acerodon jubatus) is a megabat. This bat is enormous. Their body is approximately twenty-two inches long and their six-foot wing span dwarfs that of most birds, however at about two pounds, this sky giant is considerably lighter than the hens that provide your breakfast eggs. For reference, Rhode Island Red laying hens weigh a little over six pounds. The giant golden-crowned flying fox is the world’s 2nd largest bat.
The giant golden-crowned flying fox is a striking bat. People lucky enough to get up close and personal with members of the species are always struck by the animal’s face. The sharply pointed features, triangular ears, and big expressive eyes bear an uncanny resemblance to foxes, though genetic testing revealed that the only common factor between the flying foxes and real foxes is that they’re both mammals. The splash of bright gold fur on top of their head that they’re named for stretches down their neck before it turns into deep brown fur that’s often tinged with red. The coloring suits the giant golden-crowned flying fox well. During the day, while they sleep in the tree canopy, it’s difficult to distinguish a colony of the bats from a bunch of dried leaves.
The only place you’ll see the giant golden-crowned flying fox bat in its natural environment is the Philippines. They live in the rain forest, coming out at night to gather the fruit they eat. They generally travel, sometimes as far as twenty-five miles (forty km) in a single night to find food. They like to follow the rivers, but it’s unclear if this has always been the case, or if it’s a habit that developed when the bats realized that the fruit farmers prefer planting close to rivers where they benefit from both the easy access to water and extra fertile soil. After eating the fruit, the bats redistribute the seeds throughout the rainforest, making them an important part of the local eco-system. They’re particularly fond of figs, but they’ll eat other types of fruits if figs aren’t available.
The golden-crowned flying fox bat is a social bat that roosts in enormous colonies, there have been reports of colonies exceeding 100,000 bats when the population was at full strength. They are known for sharing roosts with other bat species, particularly Malaysian flying fox bats. It’s believed that in addition to helping the bats fulfill their social needs, the large colony size helps them stay warm while simultaneously providing protection from natural predators, though the large colonies make it easier for hunters to slaughter large numbers of the bats. While the golden crowned bats prefer roosting in tree canopies, they’ll sometimes settle into deep caves, especially if the cave provides a few exits and a water source.
In addition to being one of largest bat species, the golden-crowned flying fox bat is also one of the rarest. Habitat destruction and hunting have depleted the population so much that without some serious conservation efforts, this magnificent bat will quickly become extinct. The species is prized for both their meat and their soft pelts. While there are some who genuinely want to save this species, they’re finding it difficult to drum up much interest in their conservation efforts. One bright spot is that 14,000-acres (57 km2) in the Subic Bay region has been set aside for the purposes of researching giant golden-crowned flying fox bats.
Sadly, researchers haven’t been able to gather much data about the species. They’re not clear on what it’s mating habits are, though they’re probably polygamous and only have one pup a year. Some evidence suggests the species has two breeding seasons a year. Mating rituals and coupling techniques remain unobserved.
We know they love personal grooming sessions. They’ll happily land near a water source and use their wings to scoop up substantial amounts of water which they pour over themselves just like they’re taking a shower. If the bat feels safe, they’ll spend a great deal of time on the process and genuinely enjoy their grooming rituals.
Some refer to the giant golden-crowned flying fox bat as the ‘golden-capped fruit bat.’
The overall population of the giant golden-crowned flying fox bats has significantly declined over the past three generations. The IUCN has classified the species as endangered and states that the current decline is approximately 10-15% every single year.
“Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox.” Animal Spot. Web. Accessed 31 October 2017. http://www.animalspot.net/giant-golden-crowned-flying-fox.html
“Acerodon jubatus.” IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Web. Accessed 31 October 2017. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/139/0