August 12 – Say what?

Today’s factismal: Most fruitbats don’t have sonar because their prey (fruit) doesn’t fly away from them.

Ask the average adult about bats and, after they get done telling you about the time one almost flew into their hair, they’ll tell you about the amazing hearing that bats have. And, for most bats, they are right; most bats are insectivores that eat flying insects. Because the flying insects tend to run away from the gaping maw of the oncoming bat and because they typically hunt during dusk or dawn when light is limited, the bats have developed a form of sonar that allows them to track the bugs; bats without that technique tend to go hungry.

An Indian Flying Fox in flight (Image courtesy David Behrens)

An Indian Flying Fox in flight
(Image courtesy David Behrens)

But not all bats are insectivores. Many are nectarivorous (“eats nectar”) or frugivorous (“eats fruit”). Because fruit and nectar don’t run away, these bats don’t need echolocation; instead, they need exceptionally keep noses in order to sniff out their food. And they’ve got them. They can smell ripe fruit in the middle of a stinky swamp while flying overhead at night. Of course, the fruit trees and other plants try to make life easier for the bats by growing stinkier fruit and showier blooms.

Indian Flying Foxes roosting in a fig tree (Image courtesy Drriss)

Indian Flying Foxes roosting in a fig tree
(Image courtesy Drriss)

Thanks to the frugivorous bats like the Indian Flying Fox, we’ve got fruits such as figs (they also roost in fig trees), guava, mangoes, durian, and bananas. Without them, our fruit salad would be a lot more boring! But we still don’t know a lot about these critters – and that’s where you come in! If you live in an area where Indian Flying Foxes are endemic, then why not join in on Project PteroCount? For more information, wing over to:
http://www.pterocount.org/

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