Another common name for flying fox is fruit bat. Flying foxes belong to a group of mammals called Chiroptera, which means hand-wing. A bats wing is its hand. The hand has elongated fingers with a thin membrane of skin stretched between them. There are 173 different species of fruit bats found in tropical and subtropical areas of the old world. Some of the places where fruit bats are abundantly found are Africa, Asia, Indonesia, and Australia. Fruit bats are often the only mammals on oceanic islands. Fruit bats come in many different sizes, the largest is the Malaysian flying fox Pteropus vampyrus it's wingspan is over 51/2 feet, to the smallest the Blossom bat Syconycteris Australis for Australia and New Guinea, it can fit in the palm of your hand. Many fruit bat's faces look like small dogs, but some have very unique features like tubular noses, hammer shaped head, facial stripes, there is even a group of fruit bats from the Solomon Islands with very small ears which gives the bat an appearance of having a monkey face.
Most fruit bats roost in trees, some of the large species of Pteropus and Acerodon form large groups, these groups are called camps. Other fruit bats species roost in caves and hollow trees, while other species are very secretive and live among the leaves or build tents out of plants. Flying foxes eat fruit, flowers and nectar, they find their food by sight and smell. Fruit bats may fly over 20 mile to reach it's feeding grounds. Rainforest plants and trees depend on fruit bats for pollination and seed dispersal. Flying foxes help insure that there will always be there. Fruit bats usually give birth once a year, but some species give birth twice a year. Fruit bat mothers have one offspring at a time, but twins sometimes occur, the babies are born with soft fur and their eyes are closed, a young flying fox is called a pup. Young fruit bats learn to fly at the age of 3 months, at which time they accompany their mothers on their nightly foraging to learn how to locate food and what they can eat. Fruit bats can live up to 25 years in captivity.