Bumblebee Bat: Facts, Identification & Behavior

Did you know that the bumblebee bat is one of the many bats going into extinction? Although it is rarely searched for on Othe net, it appears to be one of the world’s most creepy bats due to its freaky-looking appearance.

  • What are they?
  • what do they resemble?
  • why have they suddenly started off into extinction?

These and many more are what this fascinating article is set to reveal.

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Facts About Bumblebee Bat

Yes, we do!

Bumblebee bats botanically known as Craseonycteris thonglongyai, are tiny mammal creatures that prefer staying in their habitat to going out as they only ever stray a distance of 1 kilometer from their caves. Hmm, why are they so secretive right?

Why are they suddenly forging into extinction? well, humans are responsible. Humans appear to be the only threat to these bats as they:

  • Often visit their caves for tourism purposes.
  • Collect their feces and use them as fertilizers to top up the nutritional values of agricultural crops.
  • Collect the bats, Dry them, and sell them as souvenirs.

 

Did You Know?

  • World Record: Because of their very small size, these bats hold the world record for the smallest living mammals.
  • Extinction: Bumblebee bats are forging into extinction and may soon be wiped off completely from the surface of the earth.
  • Population: These bats are so few that they can only be found in two places:
  1. Western Thailand
  2. Southeast Myanmar
  • Creepy Nature: Bumblebee bats hold the record for one of the world’s scary-looking bats due to their creepy features.
  • Smart Formation: These bats are so smart, as they have a regularized pattern of arrangement in each cave (100 bats per cave).
  • Family: These bats just like every normal living thing has a family it belongs to. They belong to the family Craseonycteridae.
  • Naming: Another name for the Bumblebee bat is the “Kitti’s hog-nosed bat”.

 

Bumblebee Bat Size and Identification

The bumblebee bat is the smallest mammal on earth as it measures about 28 mm to 32 mm in length, and weighs only 2 g in mass. Although being the smallest, these guys have a promising competitor:

  • The Etruscan shrew is lighter in mass (weighs 2.7 g) but longer in length (measures 35 mm to 52 mm in length).

They have a thin nostril with a pig-like snout that looks swollen. It has relatively large ears measuring 10.2 mm, small eyes covered by fur, and an insect-like tooth (Upper jaw dental formula = 1:1:1:3 and Lower jaw dental formula = 2:1:2:3)

Their wings are large and dark in color with pointed ends that allow them to hover. Even though there are no tail bones to help control them in flight, they have a large web of skin between their hind legs which assists them in flying and catching insects.

How can males be distinguished from females?

  • Males

The males have a large swelling of a gland at the base of their throats.

  • Females

The females have a second set of nipples near their groin which is no longer functional.

 

Pictures of a Bumblebee Bat

Bumble Bee Bat
Bumblebee bat

 

What is the Behavior of the Bumblebee Bat?

The bumblebee bat just like other bats is active during dusk and dawn and tends to be active longer at dusk than dawn. Whenever they are inactive, they enter a state of torpor (reduce their metabolic rate to save energy, reduce their body temperature, and reduce their movement).

They dwell in limestone caves and occupy 100 bats per cave. Individuals roost high on walls or roof domes, far apart from each other. They also undergo seasonal migration between caves.

Kitti’s hog-nosed bats have a brief activity period, leaving their roost for only 30 minutes in the evening and 20 minutes at dawn. These short flights are easily interrupted by heavy rain or cold temperatures. During this period, the bat forages in fields of cassava and kapok or around the tops of bamboo clumps, within one kilometer of the roosting site.

The wings seem to be shaped for hovering flight, and the gut contents of specimens include spiders and insects that are presumably gleaned off the foliage. Nevertheless, most prey is probably caught in flight. The main staples of the bumblebee bat’s diet include small flies, hymenopterans, and psocopterans.

Around April of each year, females give birth to a single offspring. During feeding periods, the young bats either stay in the roost or remain attached to the mother at one of her two vestigial pubic nipples.

Despite these bats residing in colonies, they are not particularly sociable. Females roost alone in a nursery cave when rearing offspring.

Like all other bats, the bumblebee bat uses echolocation (a technique used to determine the location of objects using reflected sound) to view the world around them and find food. They emit ultrasonic sounds from their nose or mouth. When the sound hits an object, it bounces back to the bat which then listens to the sound to determine the size and shape of the object in front of them.

Echolocation allows bats to see the world even in what looks to humans like complete darkness. They can detect even the smallest of mosquitos to eat. wow!

Although humans are unable to hear the ultrasonic sounds bumblebee bats emit during echolocation, some prey animals such as moths can easily recognize this technique and adjust their flight patterns to confuse the bats.

 

What is the Taxonomy of the Bumblebee Bat?

  • Kitti’s hog-nosed bat is the only extant species in the family Craseonycteridae.
  • It is grouped in the superfamily Rhinolophoidea as a result of molecular testing.
  • The bat’s closest relatives are members of the families Hipposideridae and Rhinopomatidae.
  • Its common name refers to its discoverer, Thai zoologist Kitti Thonglongya.

Bumblebee bats were known to the world at large in the year 1974. Kitti Thonglongya worked with his British partner, John E. Hill, in classifying the bats of Thailand (bumblebee bat).

Sadly Thonglongya passed away suddenly in February 1974, and his partner Hill formally described the species, giving it the binomial name Craseonycteris thonglongyai in honor of his late colleague.

 

Where can the Bumblebee Bats be Found?

The Bumblebee bat can be found in limestone caves along rivers within dry evergreen forests.

In Thailand, these bats can be found in a small region of the Kanchanaburi Province, within the drainage basin of the Khwae Noi River. Although Sai Yok National Park in the Dawna Hills contains much of these bats, some of them live outside the park and are therefore unprotected.

Soon after its discovery in 1974, some roosting sites became disturbed as a result of:

  • Tourism.
  • Scientific collection.
  • Collection, drying, and selling of the bats as souvenirs.
  • The activity of local monks, who have occupied roost caves during periods of meditation.
  • The annual burning of forest areas.
  • The proposed construction of a pipeline from Myanmar to Thailand.

 

What does the Bumblebee Bat Eat?

The bumblebee bats do not have a long list of things they feed on but forage simply in the bamboo forest canopies around their caves to find food.

As insectivores, they can be beneficial to humans by helping control insect pests in the area. They collect the insects either by catching them mid-air or nibbling them off from leaves.

Finally

To live in a safer world certain activities like bush burning, etc should be prevented to avoid the destruction of the ecosystem and help prevent the extinction of mammals like the Bumblebee Bat.

To make inquiries or contributions, do not forget to hit the comment button as we will be expecting a positive response from you.

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