The next time you visit Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House, peer into the darkness at the Egyptian bat exhibit to see if you can spot some new arrivals! Lincoln Park Zoo has welcomed 20 adult male fruit bats from Minnesota Zoo, all between the ages of 2-4 years old. These bats joined the currently-existing Egyptian bat group, forming an all-male group of 25.
In their native sub-Saharan, northern Africa and Middle Eastern habitats, a fruit bat colony can include up to 9,000 individuals. Although Egyptian fruit bats aren’t insect-eaters, they still use echolocation to find their food—usually soft fruits like dates, apples, and apricots. These small, light-brown flying mammals have darker wings, a long muzzle, and a wingspan of up to two feet.
Some people tend to be afraid of bats, but these nocturnal animals are expert navigators even at night. Plus, they’re hugely beneficial to their ecosystems. Like bees, they are important pollinators for local trees and plants. In fact, Egyptian fruit bats are one of the main ways the trees in the forests where they live disperse their seeds.
When you come to see them, note that it may be hard to locate them in their exhibit until your eyes adjust to the lack of light. You’ll see that they like sleeping upside down, and they have cute fox-like faces, so the wait is worth it!