The Egyptian fruit bat, Rousettus aegyptiacus, is a large bat species weighing ~150-180 gr, that is very common throughout the Mediterranean region. It is a species widespread throughout Israel, and its international conservation status is “least concern”. The Rousettus bats are relatively easy to breed in captivity, although reproduction is quite lengthy. Gestation lasts around 120 days, and maturity is reached around the age of one year.
Bats are mammals with unique properties – excellent vision, sonar, 3D flight abilities, and outstanding spatial-memory and navigation capacities – along with properties that are common to many other mammals, such as a complex social structure and a well-developed brain. In research pioneered at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rousettus bats are emerging as a unique model for studying general questions in neuroscience that are difficult to address when using rodents – in particular question relating to the neural basis of behaviour, such as 3D representation of space and neural codes for large spatial scales.
The Bats facility
The bat unit is located in the Lorry I Lokey Preclinical Research Facility (MAMTAK).
The bat’s breeding colony is housed in a large flight room that can house up to one hundred bats. Ventilation, temperature and humidity are rigorously regulated. Large viewing windows allow staff and visitors to observe the colony. The unit also includes a smaller quarantine room where wild-caught bats are kept for one month, while they undergo observation and antiparasitary treatment; and a treatment room where the food is prepared daily and where veterinary examinations of the colony are conducted.
Attending veterinarian: Avishag Tuval
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