As its name suggests, the Jamaican fruit-eating bat feeds mainly on fruit, particularly figs (Ficus species), although some pollen, nectar, flowers, leaves and insects are also taken (2) (3) (4) (5) (8). Fruits are not consumed in the fruiting tree itself, but are instead carried to a nearby feeding roost (2) (3) (5) (8), where the fruit is chewed and the juices swallowed, while any fibrous material is spat out in the form of a chewed pellet (3). Food moves very rapidly through the bat’s digestive system, passing out in under 30 minutes, and this species is believed to be an important seed disperser, especially for figs (2) (4) (5) (9).
The Jamaican fruit-eating bat has a unique breeding pattern, closely tied to seasonal peaks in food abundance (8). In some locations, the species may breed year-round, but in other areas the female usually gives birth twice a year, to a single young at a time, with the births coinciding with periods of peak food availability (usually at the end of the wet season). Although the usual gestation period is 3.5 to 4 months, during the second pregnancy of the year the embryo is able to become dormant, delaying normal development for up to 2 months, so that overall development takes up to 6 months and the young is born when conditions are more favourable. The female mates again soon after giving birth (2) (3) (5) (8). The young bats start to fly at around 31 to 51 days old, and reach adult size after about 80 days. Sexual maturity is reached at 8 to 12 months (2) (5), and this species may live for up to 9 years in the wild (2) (3).
Adult female Jamaican fruit-eating bats usually roost together in small ‘harems’ of up to 14 or more individuals plus their young, defended by one or occasionally two adult males (2) (3) (5) (10). These harems usually roost in tree hollows, or close together in caves, and the male spends much of its time close to the roost site, keeping away rivals. Small groups of bachelor males or juvenile females also form, often roosting in vegetation or in leaf ‘tents’, or in separate parts of caves (4) (5) (8) (10). However, these groups are less stable than the harems and often shift roosting site (8) (10). Juveniles of both sexes leave the harem group before reaching adulthood (2) (5) (8).