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Weird Bats, and the Truth About Rabies

Updated on December 10, 2012

Bats and Blood Sucking

The bat has long been associated with the vampire and sucking blood. We have named a member of the bat clan as the Vampire Bat because it draws its nutrients from the blood of others. In actuality, the bat is a shy acrobatic creature that is social and kind of cute when you look close enough.

Some members of the bat clan are stranger than others, these weird animals can fly with the precision of a surgeon and pin-point accuracy. When we consider their sight is quite limited, and that they use their hearing to navigate they just possibly become an even greater mystery than that of the generic blood sucking vermin we usually consider.

Here you will find a few types of bats that may be less known, yet more interesting than those we normally hear about. Enjoy your venture, not to worry, no turtleneck clothing is required.

Bat Wing Comparison to Other Beings

The bat wing is much like combining an ancient Pterodactyl and common 21st century bird. It would seem to be both hunter and raptor in design, with an uncanny similarity to that of human hand-arm anatomy,...creepy.

Bumblebee Bat is also known as the Hognosed Bat

Kitti's hognosed bat

This happens to be the smallest bat in the world, only about as big as a good-sized bumblebee—as well as being the smallest mammal in the world. This little guy doesn't have a tail, but as its name suggests, a snout like a pig. You will only find this bat near the city of Sai Yoke in western Thailand. The place it calls home was once a lush forest of green canopy and busy bug life. Today the region has been stripped completely for farming.

You may on occasion see groups of ten to fifteen of this tiny hognosed bats resting high up on the limestone walls of caves. Unlike most varieties of bats, these rest well apart from one another, (most bat species rest clumped together sprawling grandly across cave walls). They get busy at dusk and can be seen circling above bamboo clumps hunting for tiny insects to chase down and consume.

Bat Images provided by &

Bougainville monkey-faced bat

Monkey-faced Bat

Like monkeys, apes and possums in most of the world's tropical rainforest's, the fruit bat has evolved to take harder larger fruit. The remote Solomon Islands in eastern Melanesia has very few land mammals other than a few rats, so this provides many ecological niches for the bats of this location. Monkey-faced bats have large, sturdy and pointed teeth. Their chewing muscles are so powerful that they have over time developed large bony crests on their skulls. This evolution of structure allows these grinders to munch on food as hard young coconuts, no small task. They resemble primitive primates—think lemur or South American monkey—thus their common name.

These monkey-faced bats are so unknown that is wasn't until after 2004 that the largest species, weighing up to 2¼ pounds (or about a kilogram), were given a scientific name. Such delayed discovery of this large and striking creature would speak loudly as to just how much scientist have to discover about the diversity of life here on Earth.

Bulmer's Fruit Bat

Bulmer's fruit bat

It wasn't until 1977 that these prehistoric Bulmer's bats were discovered to still exist. It was assumed that they had gone the way of the Woolly mammoth because we only had evidence of the species from 10,000-year-old bones. An anthropologist was in Papua New Guinea at a feast where he was curious as to what was being served up. He managed to get a hold of a skull from the cooking-pit and sent it the University if Papua New Guinea to be identified. It was determined to be a Bulmer's fruit bat.

Scientist promptly made way to the cave where these bats were known to dwell, with no luck, as no bats were in attendance. In 1992 a mammalogist named Lester Seri found a remnant group of these bats in Luplupwintem (the name the same cave was known by). After many nights he was successful in capturing one of the bats in a safe net. Confirming a still yet greatly minuscule number of them to exist.

Human hunting of this peaceful, beautiful creature has significantly reduced its numbers. They are strictly fruit-and-nectar eaters, making them certainly a vital contributor to the pollination of trees and seed distribution in the rainforest. The majestic 3¼ feet-wide wingspan (or about a meter) is a history lesson on the creatures that roamed the earth in New Guinea, surely reminding us of the ice age. The population of the species has been on the incline since their re-discovery in 1994.

Bat Image by

Pallas' Tube-Nosed Bat - up close and personal

Pallas' Tubed-nosed Bat

In Indonesia you will find an island known as Sulawesi. This island holds the dubious title of being the place you will find the largest variety of fruit bats in the world. Pallas' tubed-nosed fruit bat is one of the most unusual and hard to spot. It has a built in camouflage so that when it is at rest, its brown-and-yellow spotted wings envelope its body in such a way that the creature looks like a dead leaf...brilliant! If bothered it will peek over the wings with these reddish-brown eyes and decide to take flight or not depending on the danger. Mother bats carry the young while in flight, providing the youth are not too large yet.

The strange tubular nostril give it a morbid, ghostly look, however it remains a very gentle bat that will not bite. It is assumed by researchers that the nostrils have evolved as such to make breathing easier while the creature has its face smashed inside large, soft fruit.

Bat image by

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The Bat Rabies Connection

DO NOT Get Rabies! It is a very serious illness and once you begin to show symptoms, it's too late, your number is punched, fatal, horrible, painful death follows. Again, DO NOT get Rabies!

Rabies is viral, it directly attacks the humans (or any host) nervous system. It hops the red-eye along your nerve cells from the site of the bite directly to the brain stem. It then sets up shop incubating to the point where a sudden blast takes place, inflaming the nerve cells of the brain. Being an equal opportunity virus, it at the same time, inflames the spinal cord, bringing many horrible symptoms and suffering until you are welcoming death with open arms. Not pleasant, not pretty, not advised!

The bat is the most common vector species in North America. Meaning that, the majority of rabies infections have been transmitted by bats over at least the past fifty years. The quantity of bat to human documented rabies infection is not high— consider about 1 death annually from rabies transmitted by bats inside the United States.

USA rabies distribution per CDC

You are more likely to die following a rabid bat bite than from a raccoon, skunk or a dog. This is because we take huge precautions in America to vaccinate against the virus in our pets. Besides, it is unlikely that you don't realise you have been bitten by a raccoon versus a bat. Despite what you have heard or how vicious bats look in vampire movies, they have surprisingly small teeth. Thus, it is more likely to go unnoticed should you get a nip from little bat. (If a bat got within 10 feet of me while I am awake, I am gonna know to get the heck outta there). However, bats have been known to quietly come down from their perch in an attic and bite a person while they sleep. This type of bite is more likely to go unnoticed, resulting in the devastating outcome mentioned before. I must stipulate that this is very, very rare, but has occurred.

The most prevalent cause of human infection by rabies from bats is when we try to handle the infected animals. They look small and fragile and it would seem they are no match for our human strength... yea, tell that to your doctor while she is wiping away the foaming discharge around your mouth in few days. If you see a bat, do NOT bother it. Call the local authorities (animal specific authorities) and stay clear of the critter. He's small, and you may be able to end his life in the here and now, but he packs a huge punch in the long run; one you don't want you or your family to get hit with.

Comments for "Weird Bats, and the Truth About Rabies"

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  • pestcontrolproduc profile image


    7 years ago

    I loved your article! Do you mind if I pass on a story told me by a friend in Texas? My friend lived in the part of Texas where bats spend the summer under highway bridges. One evening a few years ago he was waiting at an intersection for traffic to clear just as the 2.2 million bats under a nearby freeway overpass made their evening exit to hunt for insects. As he tells it, 2,199, 999 bats flew off into the rising moon but one bat start flying around in crazy circles, eventually biting him on the ear before it lay down in the street and died. As it happened, the county virologist was watching the whole episode across the street, and made sure he got the very last dose of rabies vaccine for 200 miles around. The moral of the story is, if a bat isn't acting like a bat, but is tired enough to let you hold her or maybe nipping at your ear before it takes its final rest, you are at a real risk for rabies. And rabies is no time to be anti-immunizations. If you get it, you die.

  • profile image

    Aussie Val 

    9 years ago

    I loved your article. I care for flying foxes, injured and orphaned, in Australia, and they are wonderful little creatures - my life has been enriched by getting to know them.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    9 years ago from Northern, California

    Thank you James. I appreciate you stopping by. I am pleased that you liked the article!


  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Bats, now i have more knowledge on this little guy, thanks for sharing, nice hub :)

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    9 years ago from Northern, California

    Jamil~ Wow. I am impressed with your well thought out comments and understanding for these cute little Kitti's Hognosed bats. Humans can have such a big impact on nature without knowing what we are doing or the damage we are creating. I appreciate you sharing your vast information on bats today. Thank you very much.


  • profile image


    9 years ago

    The small size of these bats makes them prime targets for predators. There are many types of birds out there that will feed on many of them at one time as they emerge from the roost. When the Kitti's Hog-Nosed Bat is in the trees they can end up being prey for snakes or squirrels.

    There is a fascination with this type of bat from humans, and that is why people try to capture them. They can’t provide the right environment though for the Kitti's Hog-Nosed Bat so they will die. Sometimes humans touch these bats or contribute to fungus and bacteria in their environment. As a result they aren’t able to survive and those health concerns can quickly spread through the entire roost.

    The use of chemicals to keep pests such as spiders and flies away from various locations also are a problem. When humans spray them there is residue that the Kitti's Hog-Nosed Bat ingest. With their small size it doesn’t take much of these harsh chemicals to kill them.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    10 years ago from Northern, California

    Maita~Thank you for the comment and for stopping by to read about Bats. I found the arm comparison very interesting as well. I appreciate your time.


  • prettydarkhorse profile image


    10 years ago from US

    Comprehensive discussion about other weird kinds of bats -- and thanks I learned a lot from this hub, I like the section comparison of bat wings to other beings, Maita

  • LeanMan profile image


    10 years ago from At the Gemba

    I love bats, why they freak some people out I really don't understand. I often go to a wonderful place on the side of a volcano in the Philippines where I can laze in the hot springs and watch the bats in the trees above!

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    10 years ago from Northern, California

    Thank you evreyone. Your comments are very appreciated and I am Honored you took the time to read.


  • Dobson profile image


    10 years ago from Virginia

    Ehhh, i never believed in the vampire bat junk. It is a myth propogated by hollywood and now romanticized in the Twilight craze. Bats are just one nature's mysterious creatures, although less mysterious now thanks to your fins research and presentation. Nice job K9!

  • ZarkoZivkovic profile image


    10 years ago from Serbia

    Nice, I always loved bats for some reason. When i was a kid we use to catch little bats that come swarming in front of the house, I live by the river so there where plenty.

  • johnyater profile image

    John Yater 

    10 years ago from Hamilton, Ohio

    K9, great hub. I have always liked bats. I like the fact that some bats will eat their weight in misquitos every night. I have been toying around with the idea of making a bat house. I would much rather have bats around than misquitos.

  • Smart Rookie profile image

    Smart Rookie 

    10 years ago

    Bats are cool, in a creepy sort of way. This is really interesting.

  • Money Glitch profile image

    Money Glitch 

    10 years ago from Texas

    O.k. just in time for Halloween; bats-weird animals. A friend's son was found by his teacher playing with a sick bat early this year. Thank goodness the bat did not have rabies, however, we're still not sure what made the bat sick enough to allow his son to play with it. Great job!:)

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image

    Linda Rogers 

    10 years ago from Minnesota

    Hi K9. I love your hub on bats. I have always been really intrigued by these bizarre creatures. Two years ago on a warm summer evening here in Minnesota, I had a scary encounter with Mr. Bat. I was in white pj's as I walked outside with my dog. I saw something out of the corner of my eye and went it got really close I screamed. I started screaming and running toward the front door but Mr. Bat came at me again and this time I felt it whisp my hair. You have never heard a blood curtling scream until that night I was attacked by a bat. My sister checked to make sure it didn't bite me. Thankfully it didn't but I was really lucky. I still think they are cool mammals. Great hub and was very fun to read and look at the great pictures. Peace friend.


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