Pteropus canicepsNorth Moluccan flying fox

Geographic Range

Pteropus caniceps is endemic to islands in Indonesia; the islands of Halmahera, Batjan, Tidore, and Ternate. Inaccurate records of the species were reported from the Sula, Peleng, and Sangihe Islands, and a single unreliable record was found from Sulawesi. (Hutson and Helgen, 2008; Wilson and Reeder, 2005)


North Moluccan flying foxes are found on Indonesian islands in both primary and fairly disturbed habitats. They are thought to roost in small groups and the hollows of trees. (Hutson and Helgen, 2008)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 1,630 m
    0.00 to ft

Physical Description

North Moluccan flying foxes, also known as Ashy-headed flying foxes, were first reported as a probable hybrid between Pteropus hypomelanus and Pteropus macklotii, having many similar characteristics. North Moluccan flying foxes have ears longer than the muzzle with a greyish brown head. The neck and shoulders are a bright yellow color and the back is a yellowish grey entwined with black and brown hairs. The feet and legs are naked and the teeth resemble those of P. macklotii, but the upper incisors are broader and shorter. Average measurements are a body length of 203 mm (body and head), ear length of 25 mm, and forearm length of 135 mm. (Dobson, 1878)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Average length
    203 mm
    7.99 in


There is no information pertaining the mating systems of North Moluccan flying foxes. For many Australian species of Pteropus, both sexes of bats assemble at camps in trees for breeding in spring. After the breeding season, females and males move from breeding sites to overwintering sites. (McCracken and Wilkinson, 2000)

Little is know about the reproductive behavior of P. caniceps. Many species in the genus Pteropus are pregnant for 6 months and found to only have 1 offspring annually. Lactation occurs at 5 to 6 months and the age of maturity for both male and female is approximately 18 months. (Martin, et al., 1987)

  • Breeding interval
    Breeding occurs annually in North Moluccan flying foxes.
  • Breeding season
    The breeding season in North Moluccan flying foxes is not known.
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average gestation period
    6 months
  • Range weaning age
    5 to 6 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    18 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    18 months

Female Pteropus species carry their young for the first few weeks of life. Once the offspring becomes too heavy to carry, females leave the young in a tree hollow and return periodically to nurse. There is no information on the parental investment by males. (Nowak, 1994)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


Some species of Pteropus have lived more than 30 years in captivity, but the lifespan of P. caniceps in the wild is unknown. (Nowak, 1994)


Although behavior has not been well observed in North Moluccan flying foxes, other Pteropus species are nocturnal and roost in social colonies during the day. The daytime roosts of P. caniceps are usually in the hollows of trees and the total geographic range of this species is thought to cover 100,000 to 500,000 square kilometers. (Hutson and Helgen, 2008; Nowak, 1999; Rainey and Rerson, 1992)

Home Range

No information is available on the home range of North Moluccan flying foxes.

Communication and Perception

Many Pteropus species are reported to find food by vision and smell. This vision helps these species navigate though forested areas during dusk and overnight hours. (Nowak, 1999)

Food Habits

Fruits and fruit juices are the principle food source for many species of Pteropus. However, to obtain other sources of nutrients not found in fruits, they will chew on eucalyptus and flowers to prevent nutrient deficiencies. (Nowak, 1994)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • fruit
  • nectar
  • flowers


Humans are often the primary predators for many Pteropus species. In areas throughout the Molluccan Seas, market sales and agriculture drive exploitation through hunting of Pteropus. (Lee, et al., 2005)

Ecosystem Roles

North Moluccan flying foxes are environmentally significant for the pollination and seed dispersal of many plants. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
  • pollinates

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

North Moluccan flying foxes aid in seed dispersal and pollination for many different plants used economically by humans. These plants are used for lumber, food, medicine, and other products. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Positive Impacts
  • pollinates crops

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Pteropus caniceps is considered a pest on agricultural farms that grow fruit crops. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

North Moluccan flying foxes are recorded under IUCN as "near threatened" and CITES Appendix II. There is currently no conservation effort in effect and it is unknown if P. caniceps lives in protected areas. (Hutson and Helgen, 2008)

Other Comments

Due to insufficient data on P. caniceps, there is substantial opportunity for further research into its natural history.


Eric Schirmer (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

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.


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.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


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.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


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.


remains in the same area


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


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


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


uses sight to communicate


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


Dobson, G. 1878. Catalogue of the Chiroptera in the Collection of the British Museum. London: Order of the Trustees.

Hutson, A., K. Helgen. 2008. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed March 07, 2013 at

Lee, R., A. Gorog, A. Dwiyahreni, S. Siwu, J. Riley, H. Alexander, G. Paoli, W. Ramono. 2005. Wildlife trade and implications for law enforcement in Indonesia: a case study form North Sulawesi. Biological Conservation, 123/4: 477-488.

Martin, L., P. Towers, M. McGuckin, L. Little, H. Luckhoff, A. Blackshaw. 1987. Reproductive Biology of Flying Foxes (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae). Journal of the Australian Mammal Society, 10: 115-118.

McCracken, G., G. Wilkinson. 2000. Mating systems in bats and other mammals. Pp. 322-329 in E Crichton, P Krutzsch, eds. Reproductive Biology of Bats. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Nowak, R. 1999. Mammals of the World Sixth Edition (Volume 1). Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Nowak, R. 1994. Walker's Bats of the World. Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Rainey, W., E. Rerson. 1992. Distribution of Pacific Island Flying Foxes. Pp. 111-122 in D Wilson, G Graham, eds. Pacific Island Flying Foxes: Proceedings of an International Conservation Conference. Washingtion: Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 2005. "Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed)" (On-line). Accessed April 22, 2013 at