Antillean Fruit Bat

Illustration of the Antillean Fruit Back/Murci��lago Cavernicola

Antillean Fruit Bat, Brown Fruit Bat, Cave Bat (Eng.), Murciélago Cavernícola (Sp.), Brachyphylla cavernarum (Sci.), native, Puerto Rico and Lesser Antilles Islands.

2002, Michigan Science Art, LLC. Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF

General Information

Taxonomy: Class – Mammalia, OrderChiroptera,Family – Phyllostomidae,Genus – Brachyphylla, Species – B. cavernarum. Native species, Puerto Rico and Lesser Antilles Islands south to St. Vincent and Barbados.


The Antillean Fruit Bat is a small animal ranging in muzzle-to-tail length from 2.5 to 4.6 inches (65 to118 millimeters), with a forearm length of 2.0 to 2.7 inches (51 to 69 millimeters).  Typically weight is a miniscule 1.6 ounces (45 grams). Its upper parts are an ivory-yellow shade, with dark-grayish/yellow-brown tipped hairs. Shoulder patches, neck and sides are typically a paler shade while its underbody is dark brown. Its muzzle is cone-shaped with a “V” groove in the lower lip, edged by tubercles (small, raised areas). Nose “leaf,” ears and tail are vestigial (no longer functional). Ears are small and separate. Tail is concealed in the base of its well–developed inter-femoral (between the thighs) membrane. Molar teeth are broad and well ridged.


B. cavernarum typically roosts in dark, humid caves in groups or “colonies” of as many as 10,000, or in rock crevices and/or tree cavities with as few as 300 individuals, often moving between two or three roost locations.  Individuals may exhibit aggressive behavior, and have been observed to bite and scratch at other bats, especially while foraging or eating. The Antillean Fruit Bat reproduces sexually (male and female union), with births typically occurring during a three week period in late May and early June. During this time, colonies consist of females with a single offspring – very few males or non-reproductively active females are found in these “maternity colonies”. During a good year, an additional offspring may be born later in the year. Young typically begin flying at two months. Primarily a nectarivore (eating the sugar-rich nectar produced by flowering plants), it is an opportunistic feeder, preferring to forage in “mobs” for fruit, pollen, flowers, nectar and occasionally insects at the tops of trees. They are useful and important seed dispersers and pollinators of many forest tree species.


B. cavernarum occurs in Neotropical (southern new world) forests, roosting in caves, rock crevices and tree cavities in Puerto Rico and on other Caribbean Islands. The species name “cavernarum” is derived from the Latin "caverna": cave. This species may also roost in man-made structures such as abandoned wells and warehouse roof timbers, near forest habitats.


B. cavernarum is currently classified as “Lower Risk-Least Concern” in the IUCN Red Data List.

Where to look for this animal in the EYNF

Antillean Fruit Bats are nocturnal – they may rarely be observed well after nightfall, as they emerge from rock crevices or tree cavities to forage in the vicinity of the Big Tree and Baño de Oro nature trails in El Yunque’s recreational area.