Flying Dog — a very mysterious mammal, meeting with which, especially at night, leaves no one indifferent. His life is covered with many myths and legends. Krylanov are associated with the outside world, in many cultures they have a dark, bad reputation. Quite often they are confused with bats.
Species origin and description
Night bats or flying dogs — These are mammals belonging to the family of fruit bats and the genus of bats. The most ancient fossils of bats were found in the United States and they date back to the early Eocene — about 50 million years ago. Fossils that correspond to the Miocene clearly indicate that during this period bats underwent serious adaptation to systematic unidirectional changes in the environment, that is, species radiation. This genus is the rarest in the fossil record.
Video: Flying Dog
There are 9 types of flying dogs, which in turn are divided into three subgenera:
- Egyptian flying dog — the most famous, living in colonies and feeding on fruits;
- celebian dog;
- cave bat – only they are capable of emitting the simplest ultrasonic signals;
- Comorian flying dog;
- Madagascar – found only in Madagascar;
An interesting fact: It is known that a cave species can be a carrier of the most dangerous viruses, such as Ebola. At the same time, Egyptian fruit bats, due to their rather cute appearance, are sometimes kept as pets. They are easy to train and do not have the unpleasant smell characteristic of many flying dogs.
Appearance and features
The muzzles of these creatures are very similar to foxes or dogs, and the structure of the skull box is close to the structure of the skull boxes of lower primates. The body size of a flying dog depends on the species. The length can vary from 5 to 40 cm, and the weight from 20 to 900 grams. The wingspan of especially large individuals reaches 170 cm.
The color of night fruit bats is most often dark brown, sometimes you can find individuals with a yellowish or greenish tinge of wings, even with white spots on them. Males are brighter, and females are smaller in body size and more modest in color.
Flying dogs have an excellent sense of smell and vision. Their teeth are adapted only to plant foods. The tongue of these mammals is covered with small papillae, in some species it has a rather impressive length. The paws of these animals are very tenacious with a long claw, the interfemoral web in most species is underdeveloped.
Most night fruit bats do not have a tail, only a couple of species have one, but it is very small. There is only one species, distinguished by a luxurious tail — long-tailed bat. The length of the intestine in flying dogs is almost 4 times greater than the length of their body. These creatures are able to make unusual sounds, which, for example, can resemble the ticking of a clock.
Interesting fact: Unlike bats, only one species of fruit bats uses echolocation to navigate in space.
Now you know what a flying dog looks like. Let's see where this kalong lives.
Where does the flying dog live?
All bats from this group inhabit only regions with a warm climate:
- West and South Africa;
- all of Australia;
- South Asia, Oceania, India.
Night fruit bats are found in abundance in the Maldives, southern Japan, Syria, southern Iran. On the territory of Russia, night bats do not live at all. Flying dogs choose forests, caves, various abandoned buildings or even cemeteries, other natural shelters for living. In Egypt, these animals can be found in the pyramids, the labyrinths and passages of which made them a very reliable shelter from predators, bad weather, and winds.
Fruit bats often settle near gardens and farms. In some areas, these creatures are practically gone, as farmers destroy them in large quantities. The main reason — flying dogs cause great damage to all types of fruit trees when they eat their still unripe fruit.
Fun fact: Africa's largest flying dog lives — kalong, the size of adults sometimes exceeds 40 cm with a forearm length of about 22 cm. The meat of this animal is eaten and is considered quite nutritious and tasty. Locals catch dozens of kalongs and sell them in markets where they are in good demand.
What does a flying dog eat?
Flying dogs feed predominantly on fruits and are mostly unripe. They are often referred to as fruit mice. Some species do not disdain insects. These animals find food using their very good eyesight and sense of smell. They always eat in their unchanged position, that is, clinging upside down to a tree branch.
Fruit bats are able to pluck right on the fly. Sometimes they eat all the pulp, some individuals drink only the juice. Young growth prefers nectar of flowers as food, sucks out pollen of plants. The tube-nosed birds eat insects in addition to fruits. Flying dogs need a large amount of water per day. They can even drink salty sea water to restore their water-salt balance. In search of food or a reservoir, they are able to cover up to 100 kilometers in one flight, they mainly move at night.
The Egyptian type of flying dog adapts quite easily to life in captivity. Animals require a spacious enclosure, as they need to fly. As a rule, there are no problems with nutrition, since almost all tropical fruits, even completely unripe ones, are perfect as food. Free round-the-clock access to water is especially important, otherwise these creatures can die from dehydration very quickly.
Interesting fact: The Scots still have a belief that when night fruit bats take off, the time comes witches. In England, the repeated appearance of these mysterious animals near the house is considered a harbinger of the imminent death of one of the family members.
Character and Lifestyle Features
As is already clear from the name of the species – night bats, these animals are especially active at night. During daylight hours, they hang upside down on branches and look like an unusual tropical fruit or a bunch of dried leaves. Bats sleep in groups of 100 or more. During the day, they can also hide in caves, hollows or attics of buildings, in rock crevices. Sometimes flying dogs are active even during the day. Winter hibernation is not typical for them.
Fruit bats are social animals. They gather in groups in which there are up to one thousand adult animals. Each individual is a member of a large family of flying dogs. Everyone takes care of each other, guards and protects in case of danger. During feeding, daytime rest, fruit bats set up peculiar sentries that monitor the situation around and report the threat with loud sounds similar to chirping.
They do not go in search of food in a whole flock, but stretch out in a long line. It has been observed that if a group of nocturnal fruit bats are not disturbed, they can live in one place for many decades, leaving it only to feed.
Interesting fact: In an aviary or at home, the night fruit bat can live up to 20 years or more. In their natural habitat, they live much less, most often no more than 5-8 years.
Social structure and reproduction
Female flying dogs have only one baby per year. This usually happens at the end of March or early April. The female carries the fetus for 145-190 days. Without changing their traditions, flying dogs give birth, hovering upside down on a tree. At the same time, the animal closes its wings, forming a kind of cradle for a newborn. Falling on the wings, the cub immediately crawls to the mother's breast and quickly clings to the nipple.
After being born, the little fruit bat is constantly with its mother for several days and she carries it with her, and then gradually begins to leave it on a tree branch when it goes to feed. The children of flying dogs are born sighted, their body is completely covered with fur. They feed on milk for up to 3 months. Young animals become completely independent only after 2-3 months, when they learn to fly well and navigate in space.
Grown up young individuals are already poisoned with the female to hunt, become very active, interact with other members of a large flock. In order for the cub not to go astray and not get lost during hunting and flights, the female gives him signals using ultrasound. Night fruit bats become sexually mature at about nine months of age.
Natural enemies of flying dogs
There are not so many natural enemies in flying dogs, most often they are birds of prey. Quite often they are annoyed by various ticks and blood-sucking. It is because of this that night bats can become carriers of serious diseases that are dangerous to humans. If animals settled in the city, then they can be attacked by cats, dogs.
The number of these unusual mammals, especially in African countries, periodically decreases to critical values due to human activities:
- a large number of individuals are destroyed by farmers due to the fact that they often attack tropical fruit orchards in huge groups;
- in some nations, the meat of this animal is considered very tasty, nutritious and is actively used for food;
- chemical treatment of farmlands negatively affects the number of nocturnal fruit bats, as their habitual diet is fruit and nectar.
After the Ebola outbreaks, residents of several areas of Gabon, Congo and other African countries announced a hunt for these nocturnal creatures , exterminating them by the hundreds.
An interesting fact: Despite the great harm that a flock of fruit bats can cause to fruit tree plantations and orchards in a short period of time, they contribute to the effective pollination of various plants and the transfer of their seeds. Some species destroy harmful insects.
Population and species status
Some time ago, the population of a number of species of flying dogs was under threat. The main reason is human activity, in addition, due to the growth of cities, there are fewer secluded places for these nocturnal creatures to sleep during the day. Despite the fact that the number of night fruit bats has now been restored and the species is not under the threat of complete extinction, many countries are concerned about its future and they are taking many protective measures aimed at supporting and preserving the population of fruit bats.
In parallel, active domestication of these creatures is underway. Night bats quickly get used to the person, are very devoted to the owner, are able to remember and execute the simplest commands. Some countries have introduced a ban on catching flying dogs for further use as food, but since these are mostly countries with a low standard of living, the bans are most often violated.
Interesting fact: Quite Often a flying dog and a flying fox are considered representatives of the same genus, but this is an erroneous opinion. Despite the impressive number of similarities in appearance, behavior and structure of the limbs, as well as the lack of developed echolocation, these animals are members of different genera. Only genetic analysis can make a precise division.
Despite a large number of different legends, a flying dog does not have mystical abilities, in fact it is a fairly harmless creature with a particularly developed maternal instinct. Quite often they are confused with bats, although if you look at them closely, they have a pretty cute look.