The Egyptian fruit bat is a highly social species, usually living in colonies with thousands of other bats. It, along with other members of the genus Rousettus, are some of the only fruit bats to use echolocation, though a more primitive version than used by bats in other families. It has also developed a socially-complex vocalization system to communicate with conspecifics. The Egyptian fruit bat is a frugivore that consumes a variety of fruits depending on the season and local availability. Because of its consumption of commercially-grown fruits, the Egyptian fruit bat is considered a pest by farmers. It also acts as a pollinator and seed disperser for many species of trees and other plants.
The Egyptian fruit bat is considered a medium-sized megabat. Adults have an average total body length of 15 cm (5.9 in) and an average wingspan of about 60 cm (24 in). Its forearm length is 81–102 mm (3.2–4.0 in) and its thumb length is 22–31 mm (0.87–1.22 in). Adults weigh 80–170 g (2.8–6.0 oz). Males are larger than females and can be easily distinguished by their large scrotums and the prominent, stiff strands of hair around their throats. It has a dental formula of 126.96.36.199.1.3.3 for a total of 34 teeth.
The fur on its body is relatively short and consists of soft and sleek strands. On its back, the fur's coloration ranges from dark brown to gray-brown, while the coloration on its underside is pale brown with a yellowish-brown collar around its neck. Its wings are of a darker brown than its body and the wing membranes attach to the leg at the first toe. Males and females have similar coloration. Similar to other megachiropteran species, the Egyptian fruit bat only has claws on its first and second digits, while the other digits have extremities made of cartilage.
The Egyptian fruit bat has one of the greatest ratios of brain weight to body weight of any bat species. It is well adapted to seeing in low light and possesses a highly developed sense of smell. The regions of the brain associated with sight and smell are similarly well-developed. Its eyes are large and well-developed, while its ears are considered medium-length. As in all megabats, the choroid of the eye (vascular region between retina and sclera) has tiny projections known as papillae, which is where its photoreceptor cells are located.