FORGET ME FUNGUS
Recently, a freaky fungus has been killing a massive amount of bats. Geomyces destructans is a deadly fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, a disease that has killed more than five million bats in North America already. The study suggests that the fungus comes from Europe, and it is exceedingly invasive. (The New York Times)
Unless you've been living in a bat cave, you know "The Dark Knight Rises" hits theaters this week. Thus, we've dedicated this week's spotlight to bats, the small, misunderstood mammals that inspired Bruce Wayne's crime-fighting alter ego. Bats often get a bad rap, so we want to shine a friendly light on these fascinating creatures.
NEW SPECIES, NO PROBLEM
A new species of bat that recently was discovered in Vietnam is called Hipposideros griffini, or the Griffin's leaf-nosed bat. This particular bat has a strange-looking nose that helps with echolocation, a skill that allows bats to navigate. Although the first one was seen in 2008, it wasn’t until later that a team of researchers found out it was a new species that had never been documented before. Although nearly 15,000 new species are found every year, this is one bat that definitely stands out. (Huffington Post)
I VANT TO SUCK YOUR BLOOD
Vampire bats are the only mammals that feed entirely on blood. They sleep during the day in complete darkness, then emerge to hunt during the darkest part of the night. Their victims are usually sleeping cattle and horses. When the bats reach their prey, they drink their victims' blood for 30 minutes. Although they don't remove enough blood to kill, their bites can cause harmful disease and infections. These bats are small, about the size of a teacup. (National Geographic)
The world's largest bat is the giant golden-crowned flying fox, a fruit bat. Their wingspan is a huge five feet, and they can weigh up to three pounds. This large bat lives in the Philippine islands, and it is confined to the rainforests at elevations ranging from sea level up to 3,600 feet. They are primarily nocturnal, and travel at least 25 miles per night while on the prowl for food. Unfortunately, these bats are near extinction, so it is important that efforts to conserve this impressive species continue. (Fact Zoo)
HOGS NOT HUGS
The smallest bat in the world is tiny, weighing less than two grams and called the Kitti's hog-nosed bat. Their bodies are about the same size as a bumble bee, hence the nickname "bumblebee bat." First discovered in 1974, this bat has been disturbed by people all over wanting to see the world's smallest bat. They mainly live in roosts in limestone caves within areas of deciduous forests near rivers. They are found in a small area along the Khwae Noi Rivier and adjacent areas. There are less than 2,000 bumblebee bats in the world today. (Edge of Existence)
A common bat behavior is echolocation. Bats have evolved a highly sophisticated sense of hearing. They can emit sounds that bounce off objects in their paths which sends the echoes back to the bats. From these echoes, the bats can determine the size of objects among other things. Bats will find shelter in caves, tree cavities, crevices and buildings. There are many different species of bats, and while some prefer solitary lives, others can live in colonies of millions. (Defenders)
THIS OR THAT
Approximately 70 percent of bats consume insects and small bugs. They are called insectivores mammals. The other 30 pefcent eat fruits and are called frugivores. The bats that eat fruit will eat what is in season. They also enjoy nectar and pollen. The bats that have a diet of insects are opportunistic. They will eat whenever they have the chance.
Bats also love bat houses. Bat houses benefit bats, farmers and gardeners. They provide safe homes for little bats as well as educational fun for kids and adults alike. (Bat Worlds)
Bats are the most common source of human rabies in the United States. Although rare, there are usually one or two human cases per year. Among the 19 naturally acquired cases of rabies in humans in the US from 1997–2006, 17 were associated with bats. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Next: See More Weird Animals!
One fifth of all mammals are bats. This is because of the animals' ability to diversify quickly in new environments, and their extremely varied diets. Bats technically can live anywhere, though many bat species have evolved to thrive in one specific region. (IO9)