Difference Between Flying Fox and Bats

Flying Fox vs Bats

Flying fox and bats are true flying mammals with lightweight bodies. Bats are prime examples to describe the adaptive radiation of mammals according to the environment. They have developed their forelimbs into wings. Since, flying fox is a type of bats their differentiation is more important to be aware of than the similarities. This article intends to discuss the characters of bats in general and flying fox in particular with emphasis on differentiation.


Bats belong to the Order: Chiroptera of Class: Mammalia. The taxonomic diversity is high among bats with more than 1200 extant species. They have webbed forelimbs to develop them as wings, which is the primary Chiropteran feature. Most of the bats are insectivorous and some are fruit eaters. Very few of them are carnivorous (e.g. Fish Eater bat), and Vampire bats are the only parasitic mammalian. Generally, bats are lightweight mammals, which is an adaptation to be airborne. However, there are various sizes and weights of bats ranging from Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat to Golden-crowned Flying fox, respectively from 2 – 1500 grams of weight and 3 – 35 centimetres of length. Usually, bats are nocturnal and sleep during the daytime. Therefore, the use of eyes is limited; instead, they have developed a unique, effective, and advanced auditory system with the use of Echolocation technique. The auditory nervous system is capable of comparing the difference between emitted and received echoes of the ultrasonic sound waves to measure the distance between the objects in front of bats. However, natural range of bats is not restricted to one or few particular places on the Earth, but found in everywhere including Australia. Their importance is very high for all the ecosystems as pollinators. There are certain plant species entirely depend on bats for pollination and seed dispersal.

Flying fox

The Flying fox, aka Fruit bat, is a member of the Suborder: Megachiroptera. They are the largest among all the bats with almost 1.5 kilograms of weight and more than one good foot long. Additionally, their wingspan measures almost up to two metres. There are 60 species of flying fox distributed in tropical and subtropical regions of Australia, Indonesia, Asia, and East African islands. They have a dog-like snout, resembling those of a fox. Their ears are simple and pointed with an unbroken ring, which is unique to the flying foxes. Clawed toes are helpful for them to cling on to the tree branches while feeding and sleeping during the daytime. As the other name suggests, they are frugivorous animals. All the flying fox species feed on plant matter including fruits, nectar, blossom, and pollen. Their limited distribution range in tropics and subtropics is due to these food habits. However, the usual lifespan of a flying fox is from eight to ten years.

What is the difference between Flying Fox and Bats?

- Flying foxes or fruit bats are important members among bats as they are the largest bats.

- Apart from the larger size, flying foxes are herbivorous in general, and frugivorous in particular.

- However, the majority among bats, almost 70%, are insectivorous.

- Micro bats (bats except flying foxes) have a tail, whereas fruit bats do not.

- The other important feature of flying fox is their primate-like arterial and nervous systems, whereas bats do not have such closer relationship with those of humans.

- Penis and the breast of fruit bats are also similar to those of primates.

- However, in micro bats, the penis and breasts are not similar to those of primates.