Livingstone’s flying fox is predominantly nocturnal, but unlike most bats it is also active during the late afternoon, when it flies from roost sites to feeding sites where forest trees are fruiting. The flying fox locates fruit with its well-developed vision and sense of smell (2), and feeds throughout the night, resting intermittently (5). These flying foxes feed primarily on fruit juices; they squeeze pieces of fruit pulp in their mouths, swallow the juice and then spit out the pulp and seeds (6). Their diet is predominantly fruit from native tree species, though it varies seasonally (8). They also feed on the flowers of native plants, to obtain the nectar, and occasionally leaves are consumed too (5). Because of this fruit and flower diet, Livingstone’s flying fox plays an important role as a forest pollinator and seed dispersal agent (7).
Livingstone’s flying foxes roost in tall trees in medium to large, often noisy, colonies (2) (6), in which there is a defined social structure, based on dominance. Male flying foxes mark a territory by rubbing branches with the strong musky scent produced by glands in the neck and shoulders, and a dominant male may also use this to mark females that share his roosting or feeding territory, in an attempt to deter other males from mating with her (2).
Livingstone’s flying foxes breed seasonally, generally at the beginning of the rainy season, between August and October, when food is plentiful (2). Heavily pregnant females cluster in groups away from the males, and give birth the ‘right’ way up, by clinging onto a branch with their thumbs. The pups can usually cling to their mother straight after birth, and then climb to one of the mother’s nipples, where they feed while tucked safely under her wing. At about three weeks of age, the young are left in a ‘crèche’ at night while the mother flies off to feed (2).