Fruit Bats as Pets: Guidelines and Tips
Fruit bats are a distinct species of Megabats. They are distinguishable from Microbats. While Microbats are insect eaters that can consume half their body weight in insects in a single night (that's just 12 hours!), fruit bats (also known as Flying Foxes) are native fruit and blossom feeders. These bats are key pollinators in the entire biological life cycle! The only mammals capable of flight, bats make for curious pets. But in case you are wondering if the fruit eating Flying Fox would make for a good pet, read on as this AnimalWised article explores how fruit bats can be pets, and the guidelines and tips for the same. They may be seed dispersers and flower pollinators, but can bats make good pets? Let's find out!
Is it legal to keep a fruit bat as a pet?
No, in the US, Australia and many other countries, it is illegal to keep a fruit bat as a pet. This includes the Flying Fox. The worst part about caging these animals is that they are born free and though they may need your help to survive, they should be given the freedom to roam freely, hunt for food and seek social interaction with others of their species.
Keeping a fruit bat as a pet in a cage is not only a legal offense in many countries, but it is unethical from a humanitarian point of view. This article is meant only as informational. If you do encounter a hurt bat and wish to care for it, it's best to contact your local wild animal centre. They will be able to properly care for them until they are ready to go back in the wild.
How To Set Up a Fruit Bat's Cage
A bat needs a minimum of a 6 by 6 by 6-foot tall cage. A healthy environment for your pet fruit bat is a must. If it feels claustrophobic, it can even turn aggressive and bite or despair and lose interest in survival. The four wall paneled cage should be should have a mesh to allow free flow of air. If you use galvanized mesh, ensure that it is washed with vinegar solution for sterilizing the cage before placing your pet fruit bat in it. Keep a plywood sheet over the wire mesh so that it remains dark and the flying fox can feel at home. Since fruit bats originate from tropical areas, it needs to be in an enclosure that has strict temperature control of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). The padlock should not be attached to the cage's door. Bats value freedom of movement and cannot bear to be restricted.
A good bat enclosure should be the size of a flight cage. Bats seek the highest point in the area where they can land. This could be a ceiling or a cabinet top. Large fruit bats are clumsy in small, enclosed places.
Diet and Medical Treatment
Another crucial consideration is how to feed your pet bat. Fruit is the obvious choice. Opt for tropical fruits endemic to the location your bat originates from. For example, for the Egyptian Flying Fox, choose a set of tropical fruits found naturally in the area. Take a look at our article: What do fruit bats eat? if you need more information.
These chihuahuas of the sky can look amazing. They will remain healthy if they have plenty of fruits to feast on. In case your pet bat is injured, seek a specialized vet who has the experience to take care of your pet.
Why fruit bats remain free
These foxy-faced, big-eyed creatures may look cute, but they are also sociable and intelligent. These fascinating creatures do not belong in your living room or home. They were born free and survive on the basis of scent. How can they flourish in a sanitized home? The scent is an important part of the bat's existence and so you need to understand that separating the fruit bat from its natural environs may be really detrimental to its health.
Fruit bats also need to make frequent use of the litter box. Training them to do so is tough. Roughly 20 minutes into eating, all is processed. The paper under the bat cage would, therefore, need to be changed regularly. Another factor that comes into play is the splat. It is essentially the action that comes into play when the fruit bat enclosure is filled with chewed-out fruit because Flying Foxes only eat fruits to get at the sugary juice, they do not opt for the pulp or rind (which in any case is hard to digest).
Exotic pets and ethics
Exotic pets come with a hefty price and their maintenance is not easy. They need to be housed appropriately and the dense concrete jungles of human habitation are not the right venue. The reason for this is quite simple. Bats savor their freedom and flying is a big part of their lives.
So, whether you consider a fruit blossom Flying Fox or even a microbat, you are imprisoning a mammal that operates well in the space that it flies in. So by clipping their wings, you seriously hurt them, In fact, bats should be allowed to fly to freedom once they have recovered. They were meant to fly free. Why imprison them?
What you should do if you find a hurt fruit bat
If you find a hurt fruit bat and you wish to handle it in order to nurse them back into health, it's best to first call your local wild animal centre and inform them of the situation.
First, you will need to learn about handling a wild fruit bat. Fruit bats do not let themselves be handled. However if they are hurt, they will be more vulnerable and paranoid. Therefore, although they can be handled, they may bite or attack you as they are very scared. Here are some tips:
- Wait for the professionals from the wild animal centre to arrive.
- Wear latex gloves.
- Use a soft towel to pick them up.
To handle them and place them in a safe place, follow these steps:
- Place the towel slowly around them before handling them.
- Then, place them in a large box or cage.
- Make sure the box or cage has newspaper or a towel and fresh water.
- Now, you can wait for the professionals form the wild animal centre to arrive.
- Keep them safe and warm until then!
Learn more about fruit bats in the video below!
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