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Wed Jan 27, 2021, 12:07 AM

A tiny bat that can fit in your palm



Tent-making bats defy negative stereotypes by living in harmony with each other (Credit: Credit: Minden Pictures/Alamy)

Described as "cute" even in formal scientific journals, Costa Rica's tent-making bats defy negative stereotypes by living in harmony with each other and inspiring conservation.

By Reena Shah
27 January 2021

I drove to Sarapiquí, a little-known region in Costa Rica, during a brief respite of dry weather between Hurricanes Eta and Iota in search of a miniature tropical bat. Here, conservation efforts big and small are fighting to preserve a lowland tropical rainforest with astonishing biodiversity, including one of the smallest and most adorable mammals: Ectophylla alba, also known as the Honduran white bat or Caribbean tent-making bat.

I'd been warned that these bats aren't always easy to find. They live in selected lowland rainforest habitats from Honduras to eastern Panama. In Costa Rica, I tried my luck at Tirimbina Rainforest Center, a 345-hectare private reserve. At first glance, the neighbourhood seemed an unlikely locale for a rainforest. Pineapple plantations dominated on all sides and spiky green shrubs stretched to the horizon. But tucked away behind an unassuming green gate was an ecological oasis that protects nearly 4,000 species of plants and animals.

My guide, Emmanuel Rojas Valerio, led me across a 270m chain-linked suspension bridge over the roaring Sarapiquí River. In the middle of the river was the small island of "La Isla", once a biologist's heaven for studying the bats due to its abundance of heliconia plants. The tent-making bats chew a perforated ridge into heliconia leaves, similar in shape to banana leaves, to form tents where they roost during the day. The plants are easily shaken, which is one of the reasons they make suitable homes. The leaves become alarm bells as soon as predators, such as snakes, owls and opossums, touch them, giving the bats a chance to escape.

In 2015, severe flooding wiped out La Isla. Though, by the look of it now, I wouldn't have known. Enormous cecropia and balsa trees had already grown taller than the bridge, and dense vegetation obscured the island floor. The tiny bats, however, haven't yet returned. Scientists speculate that the understory is too crowded with new growth, making it hard for them to easily leave their tents.

More:
http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20210126-the-central-american-bat-that-can-fit-in-your-palm

Also posted in Science:
https://www.democraticunderground.com/122873887















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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jan 27, 2021, 12:14 AM

1. Thank you, Judi Lynn, for posting this. As per your usual, it was very interesting.

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Response to EarnestPutz (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 27, 2021, 12:34 AM

2. Never knew about these tiny guys until tonight! It can be such a beautiful world! Thank you. 🦇

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 27, 2021, 01:06 AM

7. It really is a beautiful world. Particularly if you either pay attention or are well guided, as.....

.....you seem to do. I've been to Costa Rica, saw a lot of amazing stuff but hadn't heard about these little guys either. Just checked my two travel guides and, while the is mention of giant fruit bats, bats that lap blood from cattle and huge bats that swoop down and catch fish being among the 100 different species in the country, there is no mention of these little critters. Thanks again.

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Response to EarnestPutz (Reply #7)

Wed Jan 27, 2021, 06:11 AM

8. Had no idea Costa Rica is home to so many kinds of bats. Wow. Astonishing.

That's really going to stick in my mind until I start reading up on the subject, for sure! Probably the climate, altitude is exactly what they need. Of course, it's heaven for so many kinds of animals, and plants, as well, isn't it?

Thanks for the new information.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jan 27, 2021, 12:37 AM

3. They look like little white peas in a pod.

This brought a smile to my face.

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Response to 3catwoman3 (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 27, 2021, 12:59 AM

5. So true! Much more like flora than fauna. 🦇

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jan 27, 2021, 12:43 AM

4. They're SO beautiful! I truly hope that they and their habitats survive.

Thanks for sharing this, Judi Lynn.




❤ lmsp

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 27, 2021, 01:00 AM

6. It just would not be right for these little ones to become extinct, I agree with you. Thanks. 🦇

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