Hello, fellow conservation heroes, Zena the Zookeeper here!
Hot diggity dog! It’s Halloween again, that most fabulous, silly, little-bit-spooky, dress-up-in-funny costumes, eat-waaay-too-much-candy time of year! I like Halloween so much that I’m having a real battle trying to figure out what great thing to talk about this month. I mean, I’ve been batting around all kinds of ideas, but I still don’t know which to choose. Hey wait a minute…maybe I’ll talk about bats!
Bats are some of the coolest, most amazing animals on earth. There are 1,100 different kinds, or species, of bats in the world, and they range in size from the huge Malayan Flying Fox bat with a wing span of up to 6 feet (we have those here at the Zoo), to the bumble bee bat of Thailand that is actually smaller than a thumbnail! Not only are bats nocturnal, which is really cool in itself, but some bats even help to control insect populations by eating up to 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour. Bats are so awesome!
Here are some more fascinating facts about these beautiful, furry creatures of the night:
- Bats that eat fruit (like our Malayan and Island Flying Fox bats) don’t actually eat the whole fruit. They really just suck the juice out. While they are sucking the juice, they store the pulp of the fruit on the roof of their mouths. Later, they spit out the disc of pulp, which just happens to contain fruit seeds and helps to plant more fruit trees and shrubs! If you look closely at our bats, you can sometimes see these discs of pulp lying at the bottom of their enclosure.
- The wings of a bat are actually its hands, and that little “claw-like” hook on its wing is really a thumb!
- Not all bats are blind. For example, our Malayan and Island Flying Fox bats can even see color. That’s important because it helps them know when the fruit they eat is ripe – kinda like your mom or dad squeezes an avocado or plum to see if it is ripe.
- If you’ve ever wondered what the skin on a bat’s wing feels like, well, wonder no more. The wing skin feels a lot like the soft skin on our eyelids. Imagine that!
- There really are vampire bats – three different species, in fact – but they mostly drink the blood of other animals, and they never sleep in a coffin or wear long black capes!
If you come out to the Zoo this month, be sure to stop by and visit our most magnificent friends, the Flying Fox bats. You could also take yourself on a little discovery tour and see how many different kinds of nocturnal animals live here – you’ll be amazed how many there are. And don’t forget to come to Boo at the Zoo on October 24th and 25th. Wear a costume, trick or treat for yummy goodies, and join in the Halloween Dance Party in the meadow. This year we are even having a special family camping night to celebrate Halloween called Family Sundown Spookfari. To find out how to register for this great overnight program or to get details about all the fun happening at Boo at the Zoo visit www.oaklandzoo.org and check out our calendar.
Hope to see you soon!
Zena the Zookeeper