Wednesday 9 November 2011

Honduran White Bat

Image: Wikimedia
BATS! What does that make you think of? A dark, creature of the night, perhaps? Wings of skin stretched across grotesquely extended fingers? Grim beasts roosting in dank caves, amassing a gigantic heap of dung so vast the very air is a defensive fortification?

For the most part you'd be right, but the Honduran White Bat is a little different.

They come from parts of Central America and are absolutely tiny! Just 4 or 5 cm (1.5 or 2 in) long. Their nose and ears are yellow and the rest of the body is covered in fuzzy, white fur. They're nocturnal, spending the nights eating fruit and resting through the day.

But these little sugar dumplings aren't content with some cave or the rotten innards of a gothic tree to sleep in. These fellows have bright, white fur to live up to. And shining brightly against the gloom of a shadowy roost is not a great idea for such a tiny creature. So they build themselves a tent instead.

First, they select a great, big leaf a few feet off the floor. Then they cut through the veins that branch out either side of the main central vein, called the midrib. This causes the whole leaf to almost fold in half under its own weight.

The Honduran White Bats now have a nice roof over their head, although they roost upside down so I guess it's a roof over their feet. There are no walls so hopefully the neighbours aren't too nosy, especially since each tent will house 1 male and his harem of around 5 females.

But why are they white? The answer may well be because sunlight filters through the leaf and casts the bats in a green hue, which provides them with some great camouflage. So they're white because it helps them to become green! I guess the only alternative was green paint?


Anonymous said...

Hahaha..."The white *isn't* there to make them endearing to us humans."

Joseph JG said...

:D I guess it's always worth pointing that kind of thing out!

TexWisGirl said...

they're so cute in that first photo - they look like little mites clustered together.

Joseph JG said...

Yes! Sort of weird how you don't like "louse" but "mite" is kinda cute. Still, they definitely look adorable all huddled together like that!

Crunchy said...

They look like little cotton balls! With... incredibly freaky noses.

Joseph JG said...

Bats almost always have a freaky nose!