Desmarest's Red Fig-eating Bat
Desmarest’s Red Fig-eating Bat (Eng.), Murciélago frutero nativo (Sp.), Stenoderma rufum darioi; Native, Luquillo Forest, Puerto Rico.
Photo courtesy of Michael R. Gannon. Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF
Stenodermus rufum darioi is commonly found in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (part of the El Yunque NF) in northeastern Puerto Rico. At one time this species represented approximately 25% of the bats captured in that forest’s tabonuco section. The name Stenoderma is derived from the Greek stenos=narrow, and derma=skin, and refer to the narrow tail-membrane typical of this species.
This bat can measure 2.7 inches (69 millimeters) in length, with a 2 inch (52 millimeter) forearm and typically weighs up to 1.09 ounces (31 grams). Females of this species are somewhat larger than males. Fur is brown or tan and ventral hairs are tipped with gray and appear somewhat lighter. A white spot is visible on the side of the head under each ear and both sexes have a white shoulder patch about 0.1 inch (4 millimeters) in diameter. The red fig-eating bat’s gentle disposition, medium body size, white fur patches and lack of a tail easily distinguish this animal from all other Puerto Rican bats.
The red fig-eating bat is primarily a frugivore (fruit eater), but despite its common name, there is no evidence that it actually eats figs! In the Luquillo mountains it commonly eats the fruit of the trumpet-wood tree (Cecropia peltata), bullet-wood tree (Manilkara bidentata) and sierra palm (Prestoea montana). Frugiverous bats play an important part in the dispersal of seeds in tropical ecosystems and the red fig-eating bat may be the only disperser of bullet-wood seeds in the tabonuco forest section.
Unlike other bat species that live in large colonies in caves, both the male and female of this species are solitary, and roost among the leaves of the forest canopy. They frequently change their roosting locations, seldom occupying the same site more than once. They are active throughout the night, returning to the day roost just before dawn.
Where to look for this animal in the EYNF
This bat can usually be found dormant during the day in tree branches in the tabonuco forest. On moonlit nights they can be seen foraging in the same area.