The straw-coloured fruit bat is found in colonies which can range from thousands to millions of individuals, and within each colony clusters of up to 100 individuals are formed (1) (2). These colonies are found in a variety of sites, ranging from tall trees to caves and rocks (2). The bats display considerable roost-site fidelity, meaning that colonies typically use the same roosting sites over time (1).
At its daytime roost, the straw-coloured fruit bat is alert and active, with its eyes open and ears erect, and moves about continually. At night, it typically alternates between periods of feeding and resting (2) (4). The constant noise levels in colonies of this species suggest that it relies to a great degree on vocal communication (2).
Mating in the straw-coloured fruit bat is seasonal, usually occurring from April to June. However, the embryo usually undergoes a process known as delayed implantation, becoming dormant until its development begins again around October. The total gestation period lasts about nine months, with the young being born around February to May (2) (4).
The straw-coloured fruit bat usually gives birth to a single young each year (2) (4), typically in a ‘maternity colony’ consisting of clusters of females (2). The young bat is carried by the female until able to fend for itself (4).
This species is a strong flier, with wings that are built for endurance rather than agility (3). Its flight is slow and steady (2) (4), interspersed with short glides, and the straw-coloured fruit bat is also able to clamber around branches and cling to trees using the strong, hooked claw on its first finger (4). Like other species in the Pteropodidae family, the straw-coloured fruit bat does not use echolocation (5).
The straw-coloured fruit bat feeds on fruiting and flowering trees, starting its foraging at sunset and ending after sunrise (2). It feeds on a range of sweet, juicy fruits, including dates, figs and palm fruits, as well as on flowers, buds and even young leaves (2) (4). Like other Pteropodidae species, the straw-coloured fruit bat mashes fruit between its teeth, sucking out the juices and spitting out the rest as dry pellets. This species also chews into soft wood to obtain moisture. Despite its sometimes destructive feeding habits, the straw-coloured fruit bat is an important pollinator of flowering plants (2).
The straw-coloured fruit bat is thought to be an opportunistic feeder, sometimes migrating over large distances to exploit increases in regional food supplies (3). For example, the annual influx of an estimated five to ten million straw-coloured fruit bats into Kasanka National Park, Zambia, is said to be one of the most spectacular of all fruit bat migrations (3). Satellite tracking studies have shown that this species is capable of migrating thousands of kilometres each year, giving it the furthest recorded migration of any African mammal (6).
Potential predators of the straw-coloured fruit bat include snakes, carnivorous birds such as owls, crows and buzzards, and mammals (2).