Artibeus lituratusgreat fruit-eating bat

Geographic Range

Great fruit-eating bats (Artibeus lituratus) range from Mexico to Southern Brazil. (Bello-Gutierrez, et al., 2010; Brinklov, et al., 2009; Oprea, et al., 2007; Stockwell, 2001; Ter Hofstede and Fenton, 2005; Willig, 1985)


Great fruit-eating bats are mostly tree dwelling, roosting in tree cavities or on branches. Great fruit-eating bats have dispersed to urban areas, however, where they may roost in buildings. Great fruit-eating bats will roost above ground from 2.7 to 28 m in tree canopies and also inhabit caves. (Morrison, 1980; Oprea, et al., 2007)

  • Other Habitat Features
  • urban
  • caves
  • Range elevation
    2.7 to 28 m
    8.86 to 91.86 ft

Physical Description

Great fruit-eating bats belong to the family Phyllostomidae, a family of "leaf-nosed bats", who have a "horn" projection from the nose. Great fruit-eating bats are one of the largest fruit eating canopy bats, with a long wingspan used to travel long distances in search of fruit among the canopies and trees. Great fruit-eating bats have an average body mass of 65.9 g, body width of 4.5 mm, and a single wing length of 23.0 mm. These bats have light to dark brown fur. (Stockwell, 2001)

  • Average mass
    65.9 g
    2.32 oz
  • Average wingspan
    23.0 mm
    0.91 in


Great fruit-eating bats are polygamous, with groups called harems consisting of one male and several females. (Morrison, 1980)

More research needed to fully understand the reproductive behavior and patterns of great fruit-eating bats. Great fruit-eating bats vary reproductive patterns regionally. In northern neotropical regions, reproductive patterns are monoestrous, while in southern regions seasonal bimodal polyestry (two reproduction peaks annually during the wet season) is observed. The first peak occurs between June to October and the second from October to March. Some hypothesize that rainfall may also play a role in the reproductive patterns of great fruit-eating bats. (Willig, 1985)

  • Breeding interval
    Great fruit-eating bats reproduce twice annually in southern regions and once annually in northern regions.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2

Little information is available about the parental investment involved in caring for the young of great fruit-eating bats.

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-fertilization
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female


Information is not yet available about the lifespan of great fruit-eating bats in the wild or in captivity.


Great fruit-eating bats live in groups called harems made up of one male and 2 to 5 females. These bat harems may periodically change in numbers of individuals from 4 to 5 members up to 15 to 20 members. However, each harem has only one male. During winters, most groups consist of 4 to 5 members as food availability may have the largest influence on group size. Great-fruit eating bats typically roost in trees during the day, but changes between roosting areas within a large area ranging from 0.5 to 2.5 ha. Great fruit-eating bats will change feeding behavior according to moonlight. On nights when full moons occur, the feeding and hovering times decrease. It is hypothesized that great fruit-eating bats do this in order to avoid being spotted by predators like owls. (Morrison, 1980)

  • Range territory size
    5000 to 25000 m^2

Home Range

The Great fruit-eating bat roosting areas range from 0.5 to 2.5 ha. (Morrison, 1980)

Communication and Perception

Great fruit-eating bats, like many other bats, use echolocation for orientation and locating food. Echolocation is the process of emitting sound waves and then analyzing the returning echoes to determine food location and nearby obstacles. Great fruit-eating bats are unique as they use scent in conjunction with echolocation to locate fruit. Little information is known about the specific calls of the great fruit-eating bats, but information about the calls of New World leaf-nosed bats, and relatives the, Jamaican fruit-eating bats is available. Bats differ in intensity and frequency of their calls depending on their diet and environment. (Brinklov, et al., 2009; Stockwell, 2001)

Food Habits

Great fruit-eating bat are frugivores; their diet consist of mainly fruits but they feed on nectar. Great fruit-eating bats demonstrates a group-foraging behavior, where scouts are assigned to locate a tree with fruit and then "report" back to the harem. The harem will later follow the scouts to the tree location for feeding. Great fruit-eating bats remove fruit from trees and take it back to a feeding area. The bats will fly around the fruit, take a bite, and perform a twisting movement to remove the fruit from the tree. Great fruit-eating bats will feed on fruit from several trees, switching from up to 2 to 5 fruit trees in one night. (Morrison, 1980; Oprea, et al., 2007)

  • Plant Foods
  • fruit
  • nectar


Great fruit-eating bats are thought to have developed harems as a social structure and to help protect against predation, with one male to every few females. Great fruit-eating bats are known to fall prey to birds, such as owls. (Morrison, 1980)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Great fruit-eating bats play a significant role in the ecosystem. Being a frugivore, the bats disperse seeds from fruit in their fecal matter. However, more research is needed to fully understand the plant species that make up the diet of great fruit-eating bats, in order to pinpoint the specific species of seeds they disperse. Great fruit-eating bats may also serve as a host for parasitic bat flies and mites. (Ter Hofstede and Fenton, 2005)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • bat flies (Nycteribiidae)
  • mites (Tydeidae)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Great fruit-eating bats are one of the fruit-eating bat species that plays a significant role in the seed dispersal of plants in forests as well as in urban areas. Although this economic benefit is difficult to quantify. (Oprea, et al., 2007)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Little information is available about any negative impacts of this species to humans.

Conservation Status

There are no known threats to the population of this species. Great fruit-eating bats are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Other Comments

In recent years, it has been found that Great fruit-eating bats sometimes experience Alopecia, a syndrome that can cause hair loss. Populations of Great fruit-eating bats in Tabasco, Mexico had a high prevalence of Alopecia. It is not yet known whether diet or hormones are the cause for the syndrome, but more research is being conducted. (Bello-Gutierrez, et al., 2010)


Elizabeth Vega (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Alecia Stewart-Malone (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Laura Podzikowski (editor), Special Projects.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


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


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

The process by which an animal locates itself with respect to other animals and objects by emitting sound waves and sensing the pattern of the reflected sound waves.


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.


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.


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.


an animal that mainly eats nectar from flowers


active during the night


having more than one female as a mate at one time

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


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 sound above the range of human hearing for either navigation or communication or both


living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.


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


Bello-Gutierrez, J., G. Suzan, M. Hidalgo-Mihart, G. Salas. 2010. Alopecia in Bats from Tabasco, Mexico. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, Vol. 46: "1000-1004". Accessed August 22, 2011 at

Brinklov, S., E. Kalko, A. Surlykke. 2009. Intense Echolocation Calls from Two 'Whispering' Bats, Artibeus jamaicensis and Macrophyllum macrophyllum (Phyllostomidae). The Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol.212 No.1: "11-20". Accessed August 24, 2011 at

Morrison, D. 1980. Foraging and Day-Roosting Dynamics of Canopy Fruit Bats in Panama. Journal of Mammology, Vol.61 No.1: "20-29". Accessed August 26, 2011 at

Oprea, M., D. Brito, P. Mendes, S. Lopes, R. Fonseca. 2007. A note on the diet and foraging behavior of Artibeus lituratus (Chiroptera,Phyllostomidae) in an urban park in southeastern Brazil. Biota Neotropica, Vol.7 No. 2: bn01407022007. Accessed August 22, 2011 at

Stockwell, E. 2001. Morphology and flight manoeuvrability in New World leaf-nosed bats (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae). Journal of Zoology, Vol.254 No.4: "505-514". Accessed August 25, 2011 at

Ter Hofstede, H., M. Fenton. 2005. Relationships between roost preferences, ecotoparasite density, and grooming behaviour of neotropical bats.. Journal of Zoology, Vol.266 No.4: "333-340". Accessed August 25, 2011 at

Willig, M. 1985. Reproductive Patterns of Bats from Caatingas and Cerrado Biomes in Northeast Brazil. Journal of Mammology, Vol.66 No. 4: "668-681". Accessed August 22, 2011 at