ABSTRACT

Historically, reports of insectivory in family Pteropodidae have largely been anecdotal and thought to be an incidental corollary of flying-foxes feeding on plant products. More recent direct observations of flying-foxes catching and consuming insects, as well as advances in techniques that increase our ability to detect dietary items, suggest that this behaviour may be deliberate and more common than previously thought. Usually, multiple insects are consumed, but it appears that flying-foxes hunt and eat them one at a time. However, we have collected and photographed oral ejecta pellets under trees with high flying-fox activity, some containing evidence of multiple masticated insects. Further genetic analysis proved that these pellets came from Grey-headed Flying-foxes Pteropus poliocephalus. We propose that flying-foxes use an array of insect feeding strategies, most likely in response to variation in insect abundance and activity, as well as abiotic factors such as light and temperature.

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