Harpyionycteris whiteheadiharpy fruit bat

Geographic Range

Harpyionycteris whiteheadi populations are found in the Philippines, on the islands of Bilivan, Camiguin, Leyte, Southern Luzon, Maripipi, Mindanao, Mindoro, and Negros. Populations have also been found on the Indonesian Islands of Sulawesi (Heaney et. al. 1999; Mickleburgh et. al. 1992; Nowak 1997).


Harpyionycteris whiteheadi is generally only found in primary (old-growth) tropical forest. They will also fly into secondary forest, or forest that has been lightly disturbed. Individuals may fly out into clearings for a short distance. However, they never travel more than a few km from the primary forest. Populations of H. whiteheadi prefer to inhabit forest habitats at mid-elevations (around 500m and above), but not the upper mossy forest. Individuals have been caputured at much lower and higher elevations. They will not live in urban or agriculturally cleared regions (Heaney 1999; Heideman 1987; Heideman and Heaney 1989; Mickleburgh 1992; Utzurrum 1992)

  • Range elevation
    150 to 1600 + m
    492.13 to ft
  • Average elevation
    500 + m

Physical Description

Fur of H. whiteheadi ranges in color from dark brown to chocolate on the upper body, lighter on the underside. These bats lack a tail. The uropatagium is small and hidden beneath thick fur. Hind feet are short. Overall head and body length ranges from 140 to 153 mm. The forearm length ranges from 82 to 92 mm.

The skull structure of H. whiteheadi differs from that of other Pteropodidae (Old World Fruit Bats). The premaxillary bones are strongly inclined forward, as are the upper incisors and the upper and lower canines. The canines are very pronounced. When the jaw is closed, the canines cross at right angles to each other. The detailed dental structure also differs from other Old World Fruit Bats. Five or six distinct cusps are found on the molars and three cusps on the lower canines. Specialized teeth with extra cusps may have adapted to extract juice from tough-surfaced fruits, so that the bat can avoid ingesting the fibers of the fruits (Ingle and Heaney 1992; Nowak 1997).

  • Range mass
    83 to 142 g
    2.93 to 5.00 oz
  • Range length
    140 to 153 mm
    5.51 to 6.02 in


Many females gain maturity quickly, andsome give birth by the age of one year. Females give birth to only a single young at a time. Two synchronized birthing periods occur each year. One occurs during the mid-rainy season, and the other in the early rainy season. Since lactation lasts only 3-4 months, a female may give birth up to two young per year. However, some females donot give birth during the first birthing period of the year when conditions may not be as favorable. A two month period exists between giving birth and the next conception (Heideman 1987; Mickleburgh et. al. 1992; Nowak 1997).

  • Breeding season
    Two Seasons: 1. January and early February; 2. July and early August
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average gestation period
    4-5 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 (low) years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1 (low) years


Populations of H. whiteheadi live in low density groups. Commonly, groups are found roosting in a fruiting pandan vine. They use clearings in the forest as flight routes between their foraging and roosting locations (Heaney et. al. 1999; Heideman 1987; Nowak 1997).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The main food source of H. whiteheadi consists of the fruiting pandan vine, a bright red fruit, which are found principally in the primary forest. They also feed on species of Ficus.

Populations of H. whiteheadi forage within a fairly large home range up in the canopy and the upper subcanopy (Mickleburgh et. al. 1992; Nowak 1997; Utzurrum 1992).

  • Plant Foods
  • fruit

Ecosystem Roles

Harpyionycteris whiteheadi eats ficus fruits, which aids in the germination of the ficus seeds as they get excreted and dispersed (Utzurrum 1992).

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Conservation Status

The only status description of H. whiteheadi is from the IUCN RedList in 1996. Although overall the species is listed as Lower Risk, some populations in Sulawesi are listed as Vulnerable. Information on the status of most populations of H. whiteheadi is insufficient. Populations appear fairly stable. The greatest threat to H. whiteheadi is habitat destruction by the deforestation of the primary forests (UNEP-WCMC 2001; Heaney et. al. 1999; Mickleburgh and Carroll 1994; Mickleburgh et. al. 1992).

Other Comments

Harpyionycteris whitehead was first described in 1896. Three subspecies of H. whiteheadi- H. w. celebensis, H.w. negrosensis, and H. w. whiteheadi-have been recognized. Sometimes H. w. celebensis is identified as a separate species (H. celebensis) (Mickelburgh et. al. 1992; Nowak 1997; Utzurrum 1992).


Rachel Krauskopf (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Kate Teeter (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.


active at dawn and dusk


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an animal that mainly eats fruit


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


Heaney, L., D. Balete, E. Rickart, R. Utzurrum, P. Gonzales. 1999. Mammalian diversity on Mount Isarog, a threatened center of endemism on southern Luzon Island, Philippines. Fieldiana Zoology, 95: 1-62.

Heideman, P. 1987. The Reproductive Ecology of a Community of Philippine Fruit Bats. University of Michigan: Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan.

Heideman, P., L. Heaney. 1989. Population biology and estimates of abundance of fruit bats (Pteropodidae). Journal of Zoology, 218: 565-586.

Ingle, N., L. Heaney. 1992. A key to the bats of the Philippine Islands. Fieldiana Zoology, 69: 1-42.

Mickleburgh, S., J. Carroll. 1994. The role of captive breeding in the conservation of Old World fruit bats. Pp. 352-364 in P Olney, G Mace, A Feistner, eds. Creative Conservation: Interactive management of wild and captive animals. London, UK: Chapman & Hall.

Mickleburgh, S., A. Hutson, P. Racey. 1992. Old World Fruit Bats: An Action Plan for their Conservation (IUCN/SSC Chiroptera Specialist Group). Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.

Nowak, R. 1997. "Walker's Mammals of the World Online 5.1" (On-line). Accessed October 6, 2001 at http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walker/chiroptera/chiroptera.

UNEP-WCMC, October 7, 2001. "UNEP-WCMC Database-Animals" (On-line). Accessed October 7, 2001 at http://www.unep-wcmc.org/species/animals/animal_redlist.html.

Utzurrum, R. 1992. Conservation status of Philippine fruit bats (Pteropodidae). Silliman Journal, 36: 27-45.