Pteropus tonganus, Quoy & Gaimard, 1830

Don E. Wilson & Russell A. Mittermeier, 2019, Pteropodidae, Handbook of the Mammals of the World – Volume 9 Bats, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, pp. 16-162 : 146-147

publication ID 10.5281/zenodo.6448815


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scientific name

Pteropus tonganus


157. View Plate 9: Pteropodidae

Pacific Flying Fox

Pteropus tonganus View in CoL

French: Roussette du Pacifique / German: Tonga-Flughund / Spanish: Zorro volador del Pacifico

Other common names: Insular Flying Fox, Tongan Flying Fox

Taxonomy. Pteropus tonganus Quoy & Gaimard View in CoL in Dumont d’Urville, 1830,

Tongatapu Island, Kingdom of Tonga.

Pteropus tonganus is in the griseus species group. Formerly, geddiei and basiliscus were considered valid species or related to P. conspicillatus . Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution.



P. t. geddiei MacGillivray, 1860 -- Solomon Is (Malaita, Rennell, and Makira), Santa Cruz Is, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and Loyalty Is. View Figure

Descriptive notes. Head-body 145-270 mm (tailless), ear 20-31 mm, hindfoot 39- 61 mm, forearm 114-175- 4 mm; weight 420-550 g. Greatest lengths of skulls are 56-4-74- 6 mm. Subspecies geddiei is the largest and basiliscus the smallest. Neck and shoulders have brown-yellow mantle. Throat has 1-2 ocher to reddish brown spots. Short fur on rest of body is blackish to seal-brown. Wing attachments are separated on back by narrow, dense, hairy strip (25-30 mm). Claws are dark brown, with light tips. Uropatagium is reduced to narrow membrane along inside of lower limbs. Skull has long and conical, tapering muzzle, with marked postorbital constriction and long postorbital processes. Braincase is oval, and occiput is elongated backward. Canines are broad, and P' is very small. Molars have cusps with high crests.

Habitat. Tropical moist forests in montane and lowland regions and mangroves at sea level.

Food and Feeding. Diets of Pacific Flying Foxes contain nectar, pollen, flowers, and fruit from at least 18 plant genera. Introduced fruits in plantations are often eaten.

Breeding. Pacific Flying Foxes usually gives birth to one young after gestation of ¢.6 months; twins occasionally occur. Breeding season varies depending on region and subspecies. On Vanuatu and Cook islands, young are born in August until beginning of September. Breeding seasonis at least March—June on Niue. In Samoa, births probably take place year-round. Offspring start to fly at c.3 months old and become sexually mature after two years. Postpartum estrus is assumed, given mating of nursing females.

Activity patterns. The Pacific Flying Fox is nocturnal. It becomes active c.1 hour before sunset, moving repeatedly between trees with shortflights. After disturbance (e.g. storms and especially cyclones), it will search for food during the day. Coconut palms and deciduoustrees are preferred roosting sites during day and night.

Movements, Home range and Social organization. The Pacific Flying Fox roosts alone, in pairs, or in groups of up to ¢.100 individuals at heights of 10-35 m. During periods of low fruit availability, nominate tonganus defends spaces of 1-5- 2 m against conspecifics by pursuing, fighting, and vocalizing. Fruit is often transported to feeding roosts.

Status and Conservation. CITES Appendix I. Classified as Least Concern on The [UCN Red List. The Pacific Flying Fox has a large distribution and relatively large overall population. Nevertheless, nominate tonganusis threatened by hunting and habitat destruction in many areas. Tropical storms, often followed by an increase in hunting, are also threats to small populations. International trade has been banned since 1989, leading to decreased hunting pressure in Polynesia and Micronesia, but it is still offered in restaurants on Vanuatu. Laws protect the Pacific Flying Fox in Fiji and American Samoa.

Bibliography. Almeida et al. (2014), Andersen (1912b), Bergmans (2001), Bonaccorso (1998), Brooke & Tschapka (2002), Felten (1964b, 1964c), Felten & Kock (1972), Flannery (1995a), Hamilton & Helgen (2008), Koopman (1979), MacGillivray (1860), Mickleburgh et al. (1992), Miller & Wilson (1997), Revilliod (1914), Sanborn (1931), Sanborn & Nicholson (1950), Scanlon et al. (2014), Simmons (2005), Thomas (1915b), Tsang (2015), Wodzicki & Felten (1981).














Pteropus tonganus

Don E. Wilson & Russell A. Mittermeier 2019

Pteropus tonganus

Quoy & Gaimard 1830
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