Unraveling the mysteries of these ”human-sized” flying wonders

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The immense golden-crowned bat, with wings nearly as expansive as Tom Cruise, appears frightful as it glides through the sky with its limbs outstretched, emphasizing the magnitude of its wingspan. While perched, its flexible black cloak gives it an eerie resemblance to a vampire.

The large fruit-eating megabat from the Philippines may look scary, but it is actually harmless and does not pose a threat to humans.

Humans invade their homes and hunt them unlawfully for fun or sustenance, causing them to become endangered.

The viral photographs of these vulnerable and endangered creatures amazed and frightened people with their large size and fierce appearance. Initially called “human-sized” bats, this incorrect label caused confusion and panic.

Before we delve into these peculiar creatures, there are a couple of points we should clarify. Firstly, they are not “human-sized” unless we are using a very broad interpretation and comparing them to a “small child” instead of an average adult human.

The enormous golden-crowned bat is among the largest bat species globally, with a wingspan of about 5-foot-6 and a body size ranging from seven inches to 11.4 inches. It weighs less than 3 pounds.

The bat that loves figs is a plant-eating animal that comes out at night to search for roots, fruits, and vegetables. It has a fluffy golden crown on its head.

The golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon jubatus) is the only type of flying fox megabat found in the Philippine jungles. It is different from other varieties of flying fox megabats in Asia, Africa, and Australia. These bats often live together in colonies that can have as many as 10,000 members.

During the day, it hangs from its clawed toes in the trees with its companions, taking naps. Occasionally, the huge flying fox, with a wingspan of less than five feet, would sleep alongside its smaller relatives, the giant bats. Unlike many other bats, Giant Golden-crowned Flying Foxes don’t rely on echolocation. Instead, they rely on their sight and scent to navigate through the air.

The flying fox helps reforest the Philippines by spreading fig seeds after eating. However, humans cause more destruction despite the bats’ efforts.

Bat Conservation International (BCI) reported that over 90% of the original forests in the Philippines have been wiped out, leading to the disappearance of bat species from many islands where they used to live.

The golden-crowned bat population has decreased by 50% from 1986 to 2016 due to the destruction of its natural habitat, hunting for sale, sport, and personal consumption. As a result, this species is now considered endangered according to The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The law that protects bats in the Philippines, known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001, is not enforced.

Despite the majority of animals’ roosts being in protected areas, they are still being killed in large numbers. Hunters mercilessly shoot these animals while they are peacefully roosting, engaging in a truly brutal and horrific activity. Sadly, many of the injured animals are killed while still clinging onto the branches, unable to escape their fate.

Despite the threat that people pose to bats, flying foxes are not scared of humans. They can often be spotted in forests near cities or towns, perched on utility poles, or even hanging around in places where people live. However, they are smart enough to know what places are safe and what places are not. They will choose to move and rest in areas that people cannot reach, such as slopes that are over 1,000 feet high above sea level.

These bats are very intelligent and have excellent memory, just like dogs.

A study on operant conditioning found that flying-fox bats raised by humans were successfully trained to pull levers in exchange for juice rewards. Interestingly, when the bats returned to the familiar experimental chamber after three and a half years, they immediately pulled the levers, knowing they would receive a reward.

Some individuals might find the unique appearance of bats unsettling or frightening. The large eyes, sharp teeth, and wings made of leather could potentially evoke fear or discomfort in some people.

Out of 1,300 bat species, only three are known to drink human blood, despite their bad reputation. The golden-crowned flying foxes may seem creepy at first, but they are actually quite cute!

It’s truly distressing to discover that these intelligent, pure animals are being killed and losing their homes due to deforestation. Spread this story if you agree to raise awareness for this gentle, endangered creature.

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