Friday, June 8, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #39: Bats Edition


Recently I've had to write a couple of article about white nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has killed 5.5 million North American bats since 2006. That's bad news, because bats eat a lot of crop-munching insects – a million bats can eat between 660 and 1320 metric tons of insects per year. Collectively, North American bats are worth three billion dollars per year to the agricultural industry. In South Central Texas alone, bats provide $740,000 a year in pest control.

Contrary to popular belief, bats do not carry rabies or eat people. Bats clean themselves constantly, like cats. They can live for up to 40 years, depending on species, and have one pup per year, making them the slowest-reproducing animals for their size.

1) Kitti's hog-nosed bat, also known as the bumblebee bat, is the smallest bat species at 1.1 to 1.3 inches (29 to 33 mm) long and weighing 0.071 ounces (2 grams). It's contending for World's Smallest Mammal with the Etruscan shrew, which can be lighter at 1.2 grams, but may be longer at 1.4 to 2.1 inches (36 to 53 mm).

Poser.
The bumblebee bat is reddish-brown or grey in color, with a “distinctive swollen, pig-like snout.” It lives in Thailand and Burma, in limestone caverns along rivers. It's considered vulnerable to extinction, although these bats can be hard to count, since many of them live in hard-to-reach areas.

2) The hoary bat has a funny-looking little face.

Look at that funny little face.
It lives in North and South America, as well as Hawaii and Galapagos. It is normally 5 to 5.7 inches (13 to 14.5 cm) long and weighs 0.9 ounces (26 grams), with a wingspan of 15.7 inches (40 cm). It is covered with fur, expect for the undersides of its wings. The fur is dark brown, with frosted tips. The hoary bat is a loner that prefers to roost in trees, and feeds on moths. These bats will migrate from Canada as far south as Bermuda, and because they like to roost in shipping crates, will sometimes be found in strange places.

WTF Where am I??? Put me down!!!

3) The Honduran white bat looks like a cotton ball with wings.

See?

This is another small bat – it's 1.5 to 1.8 inches (3.7 to 4.7 cm) long. It lives in Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama and eats fruit.

The Honduran white bat is a tent-making bat. It cuts the veins of the Heliconia leaf, which makes the sides fold down around the midrib to form a tent-like structure. Colonies of up to six bats will roost inside this tent. Each colony will usually have only one male. Their tents are usually about six feet (1.8 meters) from the ground, and the bats will remain completely hidden when still. There are 15 species of tent-making bats in Latin America, and three species in India and Asia.

4) The yellow-winged bat is a false vampire bat native to central Africa. It is 2.3 inches to 3.2 inches (5.8 cm to 8 cm) long, and weighs 1 to 1.3 ounces (28 to 36 grams). It lives throughout Central Africa, and feeds on hard-shelled and soft-bodied insects, unlike other false vampire bats, which typically feed on small animals like mice, lizards and other bats. Its wings are yellow.

Also, its face and ears.

5) The Ghost-faced bat also has a mustache.

Mustache!

The Ghost-faced bat's “mustache” actually consists of flaps of skin that hang around its lips and chin. It lives in Central America, Texas, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. It's reddish to dark brown in color, and molts from June to September. They feed on large moths and roost in large colonies, although, unlike most species, they like to maintain about 6 inches (15 cm) of personal space when roosting.

"The other bats make fun of my mustache."

6) Vampire bats feed on blood. There are three species of vampire bat – the white-winged vampire bat, the hairy-legged vampire bat, and the common vampire bat – and they live in Central and South America. Differences between the vampire bat species have led to taxonomists classifying each one in its own genus. The three species still share more similarities with one another than they do with other bats, leading to the belief that they share a common ancestor.

Vampire bats live in colonies made up of females and “resident” and “non-resident” males. Depending on species, there may be a strict social order to which the males in a colony must adhere. Both resident and non-resident males will usually mate with the females in a colony. Females remain with the colony of their birth, leaving only if their mothers relocate or die. Males will leave their birth colonies at the age of two, sometimes after being kicked out by the colony's resident males.

Vampire bats have strong family bonds, and will adopt an orphaned pup, unlike other species of bats. These bats will only survive about two days without feeding. If some members of the colony haven't fed on a particular night, the others will regurgitate blood to feed them.

The common vampire bat feeds on the blood of mammals, while the other two species feed on birds. When the common vampire bat finds a likely blood donor, it lands and approaches on foot. These bats can travel on foot at up to 4.9 miles (7.9 km) per hour. The bat uses its teeth to make a small cut, and then licks up the blood from its wound.

Like this. ~ Sandstein

Its saliva contains anticoagulants that keep the blood flowing from the wound. The drug desmoteplase, used to facilitate circulation in stroke patients, was developed from studying vampire bat saliva.

You're welcome.

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