Short-Tailed Fruit Bat

Short-Tailed Fruit Bat

Mammalia

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: short-tailed fruit bat, short-tailed leaf-nosed bat, fruit bat, leaf-nosed bat, New World bat
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Chiroptera
FAMILY: Phyllostomidae
GENUS SPECIES: Carollia perspicillata (spectacle)

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: This is a dark to rusty brown bat with large ears, a short tail, and a leaf like protrusion on the top of the nose.
SIZE: Approximately 48-65 mm head and body length
WEIGHT: 10-20 grams
DIET: Over 50 different varieties of fruit such as guavas, bananas, wild figs, and plantains; also pollen and insects
GESTATION: Gestation lasts approximately 2.5-3 months
SEXUAL MATURITY: Approximately 1 year
LIFE SPAN: Averages 2.5 years, but can live up to 10 years
RANGE: Southern Mexico to southern Brazil and Paraguay, some islands in the Lesser Antilles
HABITAT: Inhabits humid, tropical evergreen forests
POPULATION: GLOBAL Unknown
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed

FUN FACTS

1. There are over 1,000 different species of bats, and they occur on every continent except Antarctica. Only the mammal order Rodentia numbers more species.
2. The scientific name for bats, Chiroptera, means, "hand-wing." This refers to the fact that their wings are made from folds of skin stretched between their elongated finger and hand bones and connected to their hind legs and sides.
3. Bats "perch" on branches upside down by locking the tendons in their feet and using their curved claws, which allows them to hook onto perching surfaces. Bats have to actually expend energy to "unhook" their feet.
4. Short-tailed fruit bats spend the day roosting in caves, mines, culverts, hollow trees, and buildings. At night each individual may go to multiple feeding sites, flying an average of five kilometers.
5. They live in two kinds of groups (generally 10-100 individuals): A harem is a small group of adult females with young and an adult male. The second, a bachelor group, is comprised of bachelor males and sub-adult females.
6. When food is scarce, these bats will enter torpor, a sluggish state, to conserve energy.
7. The members of this family all share a common trait - their mouth looks like a leaf. Phyllostomidae translates to mean, "leaf mouth".
8. These small mammals have high metabolism; food travels through a fruit bat's digestive system in about 30 minutes.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

Bats are very important seed dispersers and pollinators of flowers, trees, and shrubs. In fact, up to 90% of rainforest growth is attributed to the seeds from bat droppings. Even managed crops such as bananas, avocados, vanillas, and peaches are dependent upon bats for pollination. 

As a source of prey, bats are important to animals such as snakes and birds of prey. 

Bats are also important as a food source to humans in some areas. 

Bats in captivity serve as important models for research in endangered species management and conservation education. They also hold immeasurable value as participants in scientific and medical studies. 

Destruction of their habitat due to population growth and forest clearing are among the major threats to their population.

Bats are also the victims of a misinformed public. There are many misconceptions about the spread of rabies caused by bats. Less than one-half of one percent of bats contracts rabies, and since bats do not readily attack humans, they pose little threat to people who do not handle them. In fact, most bats will spend their entire lives without ever coming into contact with humans. However, if a sick or injured bat is found on the ground, a trained adult wearing leather gloves should handle it.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Fleming, T. The Short-tailed Fruit Bat, A Study in Plant Animal Interactions. Chicago: The University of Chicago Co., Inc., 1987.

Hill, J. E., and Smith, J. D. Bats, A Natural History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986.

Nowak, R. M. Walker's Mammals of the World Vol. 1. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Bat Conservation International. www.batcon.org

animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu