The diet of Lyle’s flying fox consists mainly of ripe fruit. However, this species will also feed on nectar, pollen and blossoms to ensure it gets enough energy. Fruit is very low in protein and sodium, so the salivary gland of Lyle’s flying fox has become specially adapted to ensure this species can extract the required nutrients (7).
Lyle’s flying fox’s primary sense when foraging is vision, as it lacks the echolocation abilities of insectivorous bats. It has well developed teeth which are used to chew fruit while spitting out most of the seeds and pulp (5). Some seeds are ingested, which is important for the local ecosystem as it allows for the dispersal of seeds into other areas (2).
Although it is a nocturnal species, Lyle’s flying fox is very sociable and noisy during the day, as this is when females suckle their young (5). Large noisy colonies are very conspicuous, but they have few natural predators and so can hang safely up in the trees all day (6).
Unlike other bat families, fruit bats do not hibernate. Instead, Lyle’s flying fox produces heat by shivering, which keeps its body temperature between 33 and 37 degrees Celsius (6).
Lyle’s flying fox, and other species of bat, have been found to harbor large reservoirs of the Nipah virus. Although the virus does not harm the bat, it can be deadly to humans, and there is substantial data suggesting that recent outbreaks were caused by bat to person transmission of the virus (8).