Bats are the only mammals in the world capable of sustained flight. They are way much better at flying than birds making them more maneuverable. While some people think that bats are wild, ugly, dangerous and unappealing, a good percentage of people think they are cute. Theories are saying the coronavirus which brought a pandemic to the entire world is believed to have come from the Chinese eating a bat. How true is this? It’s unverified.
The largest bat in the world is the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox. The bats are identified and named after a fox due to the appearance of their faces. It has small ears coupled with large eyes and long snouts resembling a fox.
The bats are mostly found in the Philippines and they are reddish-brown others golden in color. Due to their international migration tendencies, they are also found in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
This is an extremely rare bat species in the world. It has pointed ears and very long wings which make it unique. The wings are so long such that when it wraps then around its body, the wings look like a cloak. When fully stretched, the wings of this bat extend up to five feet.
Most of the bat species in the world have round ears while the golden-crowned flying fox has large pointed ones. They also have long snouts similar to those of a canine. For these simple reasons, people call then the flying foxes or Fox with Wings.
Home to the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox is primarily the Philippines especially in Maitum and Mindanao. The bats live in the rain forests and their common habitats are deep caves. When they come out in search of fruits, it’s believed they follow the river routes mainly because its where they can easily find food sources.
The Flying Fox takes personal glooming with a lot of care making its behavior around water interesting. Using its large and long wings, the bat scoops up water and pours it all over its body. They take a lot of time to wash themselves and they do it frequently which is another reason they follow the river source.
To help them stay warm, these large mammals roost is vast colonies which also makes them feel safer. Since the bats rest in large numbers and roost during the day, it becomes easy for hunters to kill and destroy the birds. A lot of them have been killed by hunters. They attack the bats destroying them during the day when they are roosting or relaxing in large numbers.
The Golden-Crowned Flying Fox bats are known to be nocturnal creatures in nature. They sleep during the day and for the major part of the day. They are also known to engage in maintenance and social behaviors that include self-grooming, wing flapping and waste excretion. They also mate and fight a lot in the morning hours.
An interesting fact about these bats is they can travel up to 25 miles per night when they set out to look for food. The main diet for the Golden-Crowned Flying Fox is fruits. These are the typical food items found in the rain forest fig trees. The bats hunt at night and this helps them survive the massive attacks launched on them by hunters during the day. When they hunt, they also spit seeds from the fruits they eat which help in pollination.
These large bats have been classified by the IUCN as endangered species. It’s one of the bat species that are in danger of going extinct in the world. So many of them have been killed and destroyed by hunters. This is because they roost and rest in large numbers such that when the hunters strike, they kill a lot of them in the process.
The bats are heavily hunted here in the Philippines and at the same time, they compete for fruits with human beings and other birds. When fruits are heavily harvested from the rainforest, the bats starve.
The bats live deep in the rainforest but human activity is threatening their existence left, right and center. Human beings are destroying the forest areas where the bats live which results in the bats having less food and shelter. Their large wings and size also makes them vulnerable to attacks. Big birds are less maneuverable making them an easier target.
Legal hunting in countries where the bats are found have made it worse for the species. In countries like Malaysia, an astounding 22,000 bats are hunted in one year. According to experts, this is an unsustainable amount. If the current hunting practices aren’t limited, it’s estimated that the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox bat species could go extinct in the next six years which is worrying.
When roosting, the Giant Flying fox bats can fly hundreds of kilometers. These bats end up crossing the international boundaries around their habitats which end up complicating many conservation initiatives. The bats internationally migrate from Thailand to Malaysia, back to the Philippines, and Indonesia. In Thailand and Indonesia, bat hunting is legal and permits are handed out by the government hastening the decline if this bat species.
To save this attractive bat species, hunting bans are recommended in countries where bat hunting is legal. The bats are hunted for sport, food and medicine. A temporary ban would give the bat species time to recover the current population loss. This recommendation by experts has led to the Department of National parks in Malaysia to start review of their current hunting policy.
One of the hardest bat species to observe is the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox. This is due to the isolated locations where the bat resides in. This way, it becomes hard to understand their reproduction process. Though little is known about their reproduction process, the bat is believed to produce one litter every year.
It’s also speculated that the female bat reaches sexual maturity when its two years of age. Also based on the limited observations made on the near-extinct bat species, the female gives birth either in April or May in the Negros island and in late May and June in the islands of Maripipi.