The World’s Smallest Bat
● In 1973, Thai biologist Kitti Thonglongya and his team collected more than 50 unidentified bats in caves near the Sai Yok waterfall in Thailand. He sent specimens to Dr. J. E. Hill of the British Museum of Natural History in London. Sadly, Kitti died before learning that he had discovered a new bat species, which Hill named Craseonycteris thonglongyai in Kitti’s honor. Its common name is Kitti’s hog-nosed bat.
About 1.25 inches [30 mm] long, with a wingspan of approximately 5 inches [13 cm], Kitti’s hog-nosed bat is the smallest known bat and is one of the smallest mammals. In fact, it is so tiny that it is sometimes called the bumblebee bat. Its other distinctive traits are the piglike nose (reflected in its name), the complete absence of a tail, and large ears with swollen tragi, or ear canal covers.
A Small Habitat
These bats can be found only in the Sai Yok National Park in Thailand and in nearby parts of Myanmar. Like many other species, Kitti’s hog-nosed bats employ echolocation when on the hunt for insects. Having wings that are long for its size, the mammal is well adapted to hovering, which may enable it to pluck prey from the foliage of trees. When roosting, the animal prefers the warm upper regions of limestone caves with high ceilings and many chambers—places that afford more protection and minimize the loss of body heat, which is an important consideration for tiny, warm-blooded mammals. What wonderful instincts and abilities the Creator gave these amazing little creatures!—Revelation 4:11.
Because Kitti’s hog-nosed bat is extremely rare and occupies just a small territory, its survival is at risk if its circumstances do not improve. Efforts have been made to provide better protection, but deforestation, logging, road construction, and tourism continue to be a threat. Whether this tiny mammal has the resilience to survive the onslaught of human intrusion into its fragile habitat remains to be seen.
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THE BIGGEST AND THE SMALLEST
There are nearly 1,000 species of bats, and they are the only mammals that can fly. The largest bats (1), called flying foxes, may have a wingspan in excess of five feet [1.5 m] and weigh over two pounds [about one kilogram]. By comparison, Kitti’s hog-nosed bat (2) has a span of about five inches [13 cm] and weighs in at a mere 0.07 of an ounce [2 grams].
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Photos: © Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International, www.batcon.org