Sunday, February 5, 2012

Creature Feature: Proboscis Bat.

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. Joy; this blog would have absolutely nothing to do with such a 'holiday' except maybe putting up a few interesting, rarely-seen swine. So, without further ado, here is something completely unrelated to football: A bat.

The proboscis bat (Rhynchonycteris naso) is native to Central and South America. It eats insects like most microbats. It is, however, eaten by the spider Argiope savignyi, so pick who you would root for in a fight wisely. They are usually seen near water in large groups.

Proboscis bats are so named for their long noses. Strange faces are not unknown in the bat world, but these mostly involve huge ears for better sonar reception. It's rare to have a bat with a face that looks like a tapir. I have not seen any information on why (the better to smell you with, my dear mosquito?) but if any bat-lovers can provide, I will gladly update this entry.

As if the nose was not enough, proboscis bats also have strange, wavy stripes down their backs. These stripes serve no known purpose other than to make too-curious bat enthusiasts scratch their heads. They could be for mating, but those stripes might not show up on sonar. Camouflage is the most likely possibility, seeing as they would make the little bat look a tiny bit more like a scrap of bark. Weirdly, these bats can be seen clinging to rocks in perfect single file- your mileage may vary on whether or not this disrupts their camouflage.

When night falls, the colony of proboscis bats flies up from that strange position and over a body of water. They feed at the same spot every night; it is always around water and Rainforest travelers should thank these bats; they're helping to keep the mosquitoes at bay. 

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