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Large Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus)

Posted on Dec 23, 2007 by in Bats, Mammalthons | 2 comments

Pteropus vampyrus

Number 0098

For Ted, a Large Flying Fox! These are really huge bats, with wingspans up to 6′! I had to draw two of them because I couldn’t decide whether to highlight its size in flight or its beautiful face. And it’s the last of the 24 mammals, which is actually making me a little sad!

I have two questions for any bat experts who are reading this. First of all, do bats sleep with their eyes open or are they just very light sleepers who wake up when someone comes near with a camera?

Also, pictures of the flying fox from the ventral side, when its wings are spread out and all, make it appear as though it’s wearing little rectangular pants! What are those??

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2 Comments

  1. >do bats sleep with their eyes open or are they just very light sleepers who wake up when someone comes near with a camera?

    Good observation and the answer is that they are light sleepers ! I suspect that this is probably an anti-predator response. In the wild, it would be handy to wake up BEFORE a python gets close enough to strike :-)

    But oddly, some colonies (such as Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney) are actually quite noisy so I guess they get used to background noise eventually.

    > when its wings are spread out and all, make it appear as though it’s wearing little rectangular pants! What are those??

    Bat carers like me often refer to them as ‘trousers’. It’s just a bit of skin membrane. Maybe it generates enough lift to keep the legs out straight without expending too much energy. In flight the legs are kept together and the trousers overlap which probably smooths the airflow at the back of the bat as well.

  2. Yes! Thank you so much, Nick, for finding these questions and answering them! It certainly makes sense that nocturnal creatures would need to be especially wary, even in their sleep, of diurnal predators. As for the noise in colonies, well, when my dogs are sleeping, I can make as much noise as I want without waking them, while the tiniest noise outside startles them awake. Maybe the bats, similarly, are able to subconsciously discern between normal noises and potentially dangerous ones.

    Bat trousers! That’s great, and a strange adaptation…I wish some biomimicists would take up the bat trousers crusade somehow.

    Thank you again for visiting and for your comment.

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