Sleeping with head down: fruit bats and night bats were born in the zoo

July 19
Culture

Two species of cheiropterous animals have givena birth in the Moscow Zoo. Nile bats have brought forth (they are also called Egyptian flying dogs), four more young were born to bats: three - to parti-coloured bats, one - to noctule bats.

"This is a real baby boom of bats. Zoologists conducted initial examination and made sure that all six young are healthy. Most young still stay close to their mothers and eat milk, and also slowly learn to fly. One of the parti-coloured bats got stronger and became independent very quickly, our specialists have already released it into the wild," Svetlana Akulova, General Director of the Moscow Zoo said.

Dog noses and flights with echolocation

The metropolitan zoo is a home to one of the oldest colonies of Nile bats living in captivity. The first representatives of this species were brought to Moscow from the Rotterdam Zoo in 1998. The Nile bats were settled on the territory of the Night World exhibition. Since these animals live in groups in wild, for them, one spacious aviary was allocated. Today, the colony of Nile bats of the Moscow Zoo has more than 20 individuals. Zoologists managed to create comfortable conditions for Egyptian flying dogs and regularly receive offspring from them.

Recently, the family was replenished with two females. Specialists regularly weigh them and measure their forearm length - this way they monitor the growth and development of babies. Now they weigh about 30 grams. For almost another month, the cubs will cling to their mothers and feed on their milk. Then the mothers will go for food, and leave the little Nile bats alone. When they return, they will easily find the kids by their voices.

In wild, Nile bats can be found in the tropics and subtropics of the Eastern Hemisphere. Their habitat extends from Turkey and Cyprus to Pakistan, as well as in most of the African continent along the Nile River delta (hence the first name of the species - Nile bats) and near the Sahara Desert.

They are much larger than night bats. Their body length is about 15 centimeters, their weight varies from 90 to 160 grams. Nile bats are covered with brown hair, the belly has a lighter color. Another distinctive feature is the elongated muzzle, resembling a dog or fox (that's why the animals got their second name - Egyptian flying dogs).

Nile bats are nocturnal animals. They settle in hollows of trees or abandoned buildings, but most often settle in caves. They are perfectly oriented in the dark, have sensitive hearing. Nile bats are only fruit bats that like night bats, are capable of echolocation. Moving around the cave, they can recognize ultrasonic signals reflected from various surfaces and other animals.

The basis of the Egyptian flying dogs food spectrum is made up of various fruits, such as figs, oranges, dates and bananas. Wild Nile bats can fly up to 40 kilometers searching food. At night, they often make raids on fruit plantations in tropical countries. In the morning, they return to their homes and fall asleep in a head-down position, wrapped in their own wings.

Lovers of winter hibernation

There is a rehabilitation center for bats in the Moscow Zoo. It was created in 2017. Specialists help bats living in the city to survive the cold season. The fact is that a bat can suffer or even die if it chooses a place that is not suitable for hibernation. Therefore, Muscovites can bring the found animals to the rehabilitation center. Zoologists will examine each individual, feed the animals with mealworms and insects.

For the winter, bats are put into hibernation. They are placed in special boxes that are placed in cold storage rooms. Bats are in a state of suspended animation for four to seven months, most often they wake up in April. After they gain strength, they are released into the wild. This usually happens in early May.

In the summer, newborns who need feeding with milk and pregnant females often get to the center. The task of the Moscow zoo specialists is to nurse all the cubs and prepare them for independent life. For this purpose, the institution has adapted a special room where bats learn to fly. Before releasing to wild, bats are ringed, each is provided with a personal number - this helps scientists to monitor the population. If zoologists doubt that the animal will be able to find a new home and get food, the bat is left in the center for another year.

One male of the parti-coloured bat, born this summer, has already been released into its natural habitat. And two females of the same species and a male of the noctule bat are still growing up in the center. They are planned to be released into the wild before the end of the summer. You can admire the newborn fruit bats and night bats by watching a short video on mos.ru.

According to zoologists, six species of night bats live in Moscow: water bat, parti-coloured bat, Nathusius pipistrelle, Brandt's bat, long-eared bat and noctule bat. Their number is low - all species are listed in the Red Book of Moscow as rare and endangered.

Night bats have a huge habitat. They are widespread everywhere, with the exception of the tundra, circumpolar regions and some oceanic islands. Most often, bats get together in colonies of several dozen individuals, but there are also more numerous groups. One of the most gigantic one is a colony of Brazilian free-tailed bat, consisting of 20 million individuals. Most bats feed on insects, but larger representatives of the bat order wouldn’t mind to hunting frogs, toads, lizards, small birds and rodents.

The weight and appearance of the animals differs depending on the species. On average, their body length is six centimeters, their weight is about 20 grams. The color of the coat can be brown or gray. The life expectancy of both night bats and Nile bats is about 20 years.

The Moscow Zoo experienced birth of forest reindeer cubsCrowned by nature: a nestling of rare cranes hatched at the Moscow Zoo

This summer, a chick of black storks also hatched in the Moscow Zoo. The number of these graceful birds in the wild is steadily decreasing year after year. The black stork is listed in the red books of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and other countries. Representatives of this species are very secretive and restless, but the ornithologists of the Moscow zoo managed to create such comfortable conditions for them that the birds bring offspring almost every year.

Source: mos.ru

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