Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat

Photo of the Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat/Murcia lago Frutero

Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat (Eng.), Murcielago Frutero (Sp.), Artibeus jamaicensis (Sci.), native, Puerto Rico, Greater and Lesser Antilles, Bahamas, Mexico, Central America, Paraguay and Brazil.

Photo: Copyright; Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International, 2000. Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF

General Information

A. jamaicensis is one of the largest of the 14 species of Antibeus bats.


The Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat is a large bat with brown or black upper parts and slightly paler under parts. The velvety fur is medium length and quite thick. It has faint white stripes above and below the eyes. A leaf nosed bat, A. jamaicensis has a noseleaf, a flap of skin, muscle and cartilage that aids the animal during echo location. A narrow band of skin is stretched along the inner surface of the back legs (tail membrane) that assists the bat in flight. A. jamaicensis is approximately 2.9 to 3.1 inches (75 to 80 millimeters) in body length. Forearm length is between 2.1 to 2.7 inches (55 to 70 millimeters) and wingspan is approximately 16 inches (430 millimeters). A mature male weighs between 1 and 1.7 ounces (31 to 41 grams).


The Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat is primarily frugiverous (fruit-eating) but will also feed on flower parts, pollen, nectar and insects. Favorite foods are mangoes, bananas, nuts and the pulpy flesh surrounding the seeds of the Sierra Palm (Prestoea montana). Because food passes through the digestive tract of A. jamaicensis so quickly (within 10-15 minutes), little bacterial action occurs. Thus, this bat is an important disseminator of the seeds on which it feeds. Often they will carry fruit back to their roost in their mouth and consume it there. They often feed throughout the night, except on moonlit nights when they tend to avoid predators. Females normally give birth twice-a-year, in February and July. Births are timed to coincide with the rains; when food is most available. Young are weaned at about two months, but will attempt to fly before that, at 5 to 6 weeks. Jamaican Fruit-eating Bats will form “harems”, with one male defending up to six females!


A. jamaicensis bats roost quietly during the day, hanging individually or in small clusters in caves, rock overhangs and fissures, hollow trees and foliage. They can be found in a variety of habitats from dry, deciduous forests to tropical rain forests and cloud forests.

Where to look for this animal in the EYNF

The Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat leaves the roost and begins to feed in the late afternoon and early evening hours. They can sometimes be seen near nature trails in the Tabonuco, Colorado and Cloud Forest type areas.