Bats are probably one of the animals that spark interest amongst many people this year. Megabats are the superfamilies of the largest bats around the world with freakishly huge sizes. However, not all megabats are big which is why we only focus on the largest ones today. Megabats are actually very interesting mammals to learn about, so let’s find out with me below.
6Long-Tailed Fruit Bat
Length: 5 – 10 centimeters
Also go by the name Fijian blossom bat or long-tailed blossom bat, this is one of the largest bats in megabats families. These bats are the only native mammals of Fiji, the archipelago of 333 islands. The unique thing about the long-tailed fruit bats is that some of their species do not echolocate. Their distinctive appearance that you can easily notice right away is the long mouse-like tail that hangs freely from its rump.
The Fijian blossom bats live in colonies of up to thousands inside the darkest areas of large and high-ceiling caves. Apart from caves, these bats also live in tropical or subtropical dry forests as well. This species is not considered to be Vulnerable with a high risk of extinction. The threats to their population are habitat loss, hunting, and tourism, and they are only found in Fijo, Caledonia, and Vanuatu.
5False Vampire Bat
Length: 6.5 – 14 centimeters
Here you are looking at the largest bats in the New World, and carnivorous bat species. The false vampire bats have large ears joined by a band of skin across the forehead and a long fleshy nose. Because they are carnivores, these bats feed on birds, insects, and rodents. They capture rodents by pouncing on them to break their neck, back, or skill. For birds, they grasp them by the beak and crush the skull with their teeth.
The false vampire bats are romantic lovers, and they are monogamous which is quite unusual in bats and mammals. Male false vampire bats fold their wings around the females and young while nesting during the day. This is to aid them with heat retention because this bird species cannot stand cold temperatures. Usually, false vampire bats roost in pairs or small groups in caves, hollow trees, or snags. You can find them in dry and open habitats or open woodlands in Australia. These bats also live in very arid or dry areas in Africa or India as well.
4Egyptian Fruit Bat
Length: Up to 15 centimeters
The Egyptian fruit bat is a medium-sized member of the megabat family although it is comparatively large and robust. This bat species has a fox-like face, and its eyes are dark, large, and round. The special thing about them is that they have a very long tongue that coils around their rib cage when not feeding. When it comes to diet, these bats feed on soft pulpy fruit; obviously. Sometimes these nocturnal animals also consume insects, fungi, and leaves, and they are more active in the evening.
During the daytime, they will spend time grooming and sleeping in caves and deep in the dark forest areas. Their colonies can be as large as 1,000 members, and they stay very close together for safety and warmth. The cool thing about Egyptian fruit bats is that they carry the baby around for the first six weeks of life. The baby feeds on the milk that the mother produces until they are about 3 months old. You can find these bats in the lowlands and mountains of Africa and some parts of India and Pakistan.
3Indian Flying Fox
Length: 15.5 – 22 centimeters
The Indian flying fox or the greater Indian fruit bat is one of the largest bats in the world. However, these are not the bats that you want to get close to because they are also one of the disease vectors. These bats are capable of transmitting several viruses to humans. Those include Flavivirus, Henipavirus, Lyssavirus, Nipah virus, and more. These members of the megabats maintain a frugivorous diet, and they supplement it with flowers and insects. Besides their favorite fruits which are figs, these bats also feed on bananas, guavas, mangoes, and other cultivated fruits.
The Indian flying foxes are endemic to South Central Asia from China and Pakistan to the Maldive Islands. These large bats usually live in tropical forests, swamps, and near other water bodies. They usually form large roosts of several hundreds member. Also, they live among banyan trees, fig trees, and tamarind trees, and a single group occupies one tree. In Pakistan, some tribes use them as food and medicine to treat asthma and chest pain.
Length: Up to 23 centimeters
Some people said that hammerhead bats remind them of gargoyles, and some think these bats are not real. As a matter of fact, the hammerhead bats are real and they are among the largest bats in megabats families. The male hammerhead bats are larger than the females, and their appearance is also different from each other. Only the males have large elongated heads, the females have a fox-faced appearance similar to most fruit bats.
Because these bats are frugivores, their diet consists entirely of fruit. Their favorite fruit is figs, but they also feed on bananas, guavas, and mangoes. With their longer intestines, hammerhead bats can absorb more protein from their food compared to other bats. These bats are the largest bats native to Africa, and they favor humid habitats such as mangroves, palm forests, and swarms.
In spite of them being harmless, you still want to keep your distance from them. The hammerhead bats are prone to infection by mites and a virus that affects the liver. On top of that, the species is also suspected to be the reservoir of the Ebola virus as well. Scientists are still working on the research, so whether or not these bats can transmit Ebola infection remains unknown.
1Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox
Length: Up to 30 centimeters
This is the largest bats in Southeast Asia and in the world, and the largest bats in megabat families. People usually call them giant bats, human-sized bats, or foxes with wings. These bats can grow so large they look like the creatures from sci-fi movies. Giant golden-crowned flying fox has a face that looks very similar to that of a fox; hence the name. As you can see, they have a long snout that is quite similar to those of canines along with point ears.
Despite the size, these large bats actually feed on fruits and fruits only. Usually, they travel at the speed of 25mph to hunt for food at night. Apart from looking for food, these bats also spit out seeds from the fruits to help with the pollination process. Their favorite fruits are several kinds of figs, lamio, leaves, and sometimes cultivated fruits.
Their only home is in the Philippines, especially in Maitum and Mindanao. These megabats live in deep caves and rainforests, and they typically follow the routes of the river. Their behavior around the water is very fascinating because these bats take personal grooming very seriously. These bats will use their wings to scoop the water up and put it all over their body. Giant golden-crowned flying foxes roost in very large colonies to feel safe and stay warm.
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