For the past few years Egyptian Fruit Bats, which are on the IUCN Redlist, have been spotted flying around Fethiye, sleeping in the rafters of people’s homes and feasting on the town’s date palms.
We have been told by experts that this is the most western location in which Egyptian Fruit Bats have been recorded. So far. On behalf of Turkey’s leading bat researchers we now ask for your help to learn more about these amazing and vulnerable creatures, which appear to have taken up residence in and around Fethiye.
Perhaps, before we go any further, we ought to tell you something about these bats…
A few facts and figures about Egyptian Fruit Bats
Egyptian fruit bats – Rousettus aegyptiacus – are the only frugivorous (fruit eating) and Afro-tropical species in the Palearctic region. They can be found in Egypt, Cyprus and southern Turkey, throughout the Arabian Peninsula and east to Pakistan and northwest India.
Of the 39 species that exist in Turkey, this is the only fruit bat. The species normally lives in the Mediterranean region of Turkey (Antalya, Mersin, Adana and Hatay). This species usually roosts in caves. As the name suggest, they mainly feed on fruit. Varieties include plums, loquats, dates, apples, figs, apricots, citrus fruit, pomegranates, grapes, persimmon, mulberries, cherries and peaches, depending on the season.
From tip to tail, the length of adult males and females varies between 177 and 160 mm, while the weight of males and females are usually between 130 and 140 g. Their bodies are light brown and their wings are are darker brown. According to batworld.com, they can have a wingspan of up to .6 of a metre (that’s about two feet) and are believed to be the most vocal of all bat species.
This website also says that during the day Egyptian Fruit Bats will spend time grooming and sleeping. As well as caves the website suggests that they make gather deep in forest areas, where it is dark.
They can create very large colonies and stay very close to each other for safety and for warmth. They sleep upside down with their wings folded in across them.
The status of Rousettus aegyptiacus has been defined as “least concern” by the IUCN
Back to Fethiye’s fruit bats
A few years ago the founder of Fethiye Times found a bat in the attic! The attic was in the centre of Fethiye, a long way from its usual habitat in southern Turkey. We contacted an expert who confirmed from the photograph that the new resident was an Egyptian fruit bat.
Then, just a few weeks ago in the middle of January, Çalış resident Graham Haines sent Fethiye Times some remarkable photos of a bat he spotted flying around and feasting on dates near his home.
After some investigation, we discovered that others had been seen near the coast in Çalış the at the very beginning of 2016. Once again we contacted an expert, this time Professor Nurşel Aşan Baydemir, one of Turkey’s leading chiropterologists (that’s someone who studies bats). Professor Baydemir teaches and carries out research at Kirikkale University, in the Biology Department of the Arts and Science Faculty. She was understandably delighted by our news…
Bats on the move?
It certainly seems as if this bat species is moving west – further west that has so far been recorded. Are they coming here because of climate change, an abundance of date palms, loss of habitat in their preferred locations, or for some other reason?
The next stage of this exciting journey was to find out what we could do to help Nursel and her team find out more and add to their really important research.
This is where you come in…
Fethiye Fruit Bat Watch
There is nothing official or formal about our Fethiye Bat Watch, as yet. But, if you are lucky enough to spot any Egyptian Fruit Bats flying around at dusk or after dark do try and take a photograph. The photo by Graham was taken using a smart phone but we dont recommend using a flash and Ali İhsan used a camera for his. Of course, it goes without saying, never, under any circumstances, try to catch or even touch a fruit bat. However, please do record the following:
- GPS (or the exact location)
- Weather conditions
- If there is more than one, please count them
You may decide to keep a fruit bat diary…
Please send your bat watch findings and photographs to Fethiye Times at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
You don’t have to love or even like bats to understand how important this project is. It is particularly important for those who spend their lives studying and trying to protect them. The data will be used in ongoing research at Kirikkale University.
Help by sending details of any sightings of this species. Also share this post with friends and family who live in and around the Fethiye area. If you live outside the Fethiye area let us know too. They may be in Kaş, Kalkan, Göcek, Marmaris or Bodrum too. Please let us know.
Thank you and Happy Fruit Bat Watching – We look forward to hearing from you!
Many thanks to Kirikkale University, Graham Haines and Ali İhsan Emre for permission to use their photographs