Fruit Bats in Mumbai

Though Mumbai is a city full of congestion and traffic, there are pockets of green in several places in the city that attract birds and animals like bats. Fruit Bats have been feasting on mangoes left over from the mango season on trees in Mumbai. We were lucky to be able to photograph one just outside our window in Andheri East!

We stay in Andheri East bordering Aarey Milk Colony that is the green lung of Mumbai. Hence it is no surprise that we get a lot of feathery visitors like sun birds, mynas, fly catchers, parakeets and several other types of birds. Bats have also been a regular visitors to a bunch of Ashoka trees in our compound. But this is the first time we were able to see a bat from up close.

An article in DNA “Mumbai bat lovers unite forces to save their leathery friends” has reported sightings of bats in other areas of Mumbai including Colaba, Dadar Parsee Colony and Veermata Jijabai Udayan. The article also explains that The Maharashtra Nature Park Society (MNPS) in Dharavi is reaching out to 750 of the 3,400 schools in the city in the first lap to raise awareness about bat conservation.

Here are some photographs we got of the bat:

And here is a video that shows how comfortably the bat lives in a tree:

The pictures and videos seem to indicate that this bat is the Indian Flying Fox. Found a nice article in Mid Day where BNHS mammalogist Dr Bandana Aul describes various species of bats found in Mumbai. This is how she describes the species (I presume) of the above bat:

1. Old World Fruit Bats (Megachiroptera):
These are the fruit eating species and seen around human settlements. The most common one is the Indian Flying Fox commonly seen on Ficus trees in large aggregations during the day. A roost close to the Hornbill House, in the premises of the CSMVS, can be seen easily during the day. These form the group of Mega-bats. They have large eyes, small ears, large bodies, and have a dog/ fox-like face and so are frequently referred to as Flying Foxes. They either eat fruit or drink nectar from flowers. They have been misunderstood to be farmer’s pests; on the contrary, they are pollinators of economically important species in forests, including cash crops such as mango, cashew, balsa, agave, and bananas. They are roost-loyal, and rarely change roosts unless disturbed

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  • Nandan Kalbag

    When I lived in Santacruz, I used to feed a couple of bats, every night, for several years. In fact the couple used to hover in my balcony every night around 8pm, which was my dinner time. After dinner, I used to share with them a banana. In fact Ashutosh also has witnessed my feeding the bat couple. The couple was so confidant of me that they left their baby in my indoor plants till it was able to fly on its own. Every night the couple used to take the baby out and the next day morning the baby used to be in my plants again. Normally bats keep their babies in Asopal trees (Not Ashok trees as mentioned by Ashutosh). But keeping the baby on tree is dangerous for the baby, as the crows eat bat babies. So the bats were using my home as a creche. I still have the photo of that baby.

  • Graham Head

    As an Englishman out doing his supermarket shopping on Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg, I was amazed when at about 18.45-19.00 this evening I observed a large number of what – certainly when compared to the bats we have where I grew up in SE England, and those at my present home in The Netherlands – could only be called huge bats.
    It had me scuttling to internet to see if I could learn more – as I indeed have from both the original blog from Ashutosh and from the reaction from Nandan.
    What a wonderful sight: I always love being surprised by nature: and in the middel of a populous city like Mumbai it’s amazing!
    Thanks to you both

    • Thanks Graham for your comment… how true that despite being a cauldron of chaos, sometimes Mumbai just surprises you with such incongruous occurrences!