Smallest mammal in the world: The Bumblebee Bat
The Bumblebee Bat, more formally known as Kitti's hog-nosed bat, is, if you are going by body size, the world's smallest mammal. (For those who may be interested, the Etruscan shrew is the smallest mammal if you base it on mass.) Bumblebee Bats are a vulnerable species of bat that can be found in western Thailand and southeastern Burma. Habitat loss puts these animals at risk of extinction, especially so due to the fact that they are found only in a few select areas of the world. They have red/brown or greyish fur, and a pig like snout that gives them their formal name. Bumblebee Bats have small eyes, large typical bat like ears, and relatively large dark wings. These tiny bats normally top out at around only 33 mm in length, and generally weight a mere 2 grams. Their small size is why they are commonly referred to as Bumblebee Bats.
These tiny flying mammals live in limestone caves in groups sometimes consisting of up to around 500 bats. Bumblebee Bats do not lead very active life styles, normally leaving their roosts to forage for only around 30 minutes twice a day, in the morning and at dawn. Bumblebee Bats, like most species of bats, are insectivores. They catch most of their prey items while in flight, or by picking it off of foliage. Their diet consists mainly of small flies. Bumblebee Bats breed during the dry season, normally around April, and each female gives birth to just a single baby.
Kitti's hog-nosed bats where not discovered until 1974, by the zoologist Kitti Thonglongya. The species is listed as vulnerable, mostly due to habitat loss caused by tourism, and collection for scientific research as well as for sale as souvenirs. The annual burning of forests near the caves the bats occupy may also negatively effect the bat's population. In 2007, the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered project named the Bumblebee Bat as one of it's top 10 focal species, which hopefully, along with learning more about this elusive species, will help to maintain the adorably tiny Bumblebee Bat's numbers.
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