The use of olfaction in the foraging behaviour of the golden-mantled flying fox, Pteropus pumilus, and the greater musky fruit bat, Ptenochirus jagori (Megachiroptera: Pteropodidae)

Naturwissenschaften. 2003 Feb;90(2):84-7. doi: 10.1007/s00114-002-0393-0. Epub 2003 Jan 28.


Double-choice experiments with three adult males of the little golden-mantled flying fox, Pteropus pumilus, and ten adult greater musky fruit bats, Ptenochirus jagori (both Megachiroptera: Pteropodidae), demonstrate that they are able to discriminate accurately between an empty dish and a dish containing fruits of one of several species by odour alone. Tests were run using fruits of six fruit species for Pteropus pumilus and five fruit species for Ptenochirus jagori. The fruit species used are known to be consumed in the wild by Ptenochirus jagori and are, with two exceptions, species of the natural rain-forest habitat. This is the first study to show that fruit bats are also able to assess the ripeness of a fruit exclusively by its odour. The bats preferred ripe over unripe fruits of the same species. Thus, both Pteropus pumilus and Ptenochirus jagori can not only locate fruits by their odour but can also discriminate between ripe and unripe fruits of the same species by olfaction. The results confirm and expand earlier findings on the role of olfactory cues in the orientation of foraging pteropodids.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Choice Behavior
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Fruit
  • Male
  • Smell*
  • Species Specificity