The big-eyed bat is a lesser-known but fascinating member of the bat family, the genus Oryzomus. As its name suggests, it has relatively large eyes, which set it apart from the rest of the world’s bats. This interesting feature gives the big-eyed bat a unique look that even nature lovers find fascinating to watch.
The big-eyed bat is one of the three bats that live in the Amazon rainforest. Its scientific name, Oryzomus grimmi, was only established in 2011. Unfortunately, the big-eyed bat is currently endangered due to the extinction of its main food source, the cashew fruit. Luckily, there is still some hope for this intriguing creature as it has been cloned successfully, which will hopefully allow for further studies leading to a greater understanding of its unique biology.
The Brazilian Big-eyed Bat was discovered by Thomas in 1891. It inhabits Southeast Brazil. It is currently (2003) listed as a vulnerable species. This species is also endemic to Brazil.
Very few reportings of this particular bat species have been uncovered. It is from the Stenodermatinae family of bats. Bats in this family are Neotropical Fruit Bats.
Many bats help our environment by acting as seed dispersers. The Brazilian Big-eyed Bat is actually a seed predator, not a disperser. This was reported after a study of the bats feeding took place at the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro. It is rare to find this particular species of bat, and thus very little research has been carried out.
While the big-eyed bat’s numbers are unknown, it is estimated that there are only 40,000 individuals left in the wild. Since its discovery in 2003, the IUCN Red List has listed the big-eyed bat as one of the world’s most endangered animals. Its survival is heavily reliant on the presence of cashew fruit trees, which grow in great abundance in the amazon rainforest. However, due to deforestation, the amazon rainforest is now only 15% of its original size, making the big-eyed bats’ food source less available.
This is a huge problem, as, without its main food source, the big-eyed bat could become extinct in the wild. It is therefore of paramount importance that the cashew fruit ecosystem is conserved and preserved, especially since there are already signs that the big-eyed bat is in decline. The main culprit behind its endangerment is the growing power of the agricultural industry in the region, which provides cheaper and more convenient food sources for humans. The situation is made more critical by the fact that in the last century, the amazon rainforest experienced two huge waves of deforestation. The first wave was in the 1960s and 1970s when around 150,000 acres were lost every year. The second wave began in the early 2000s and continues unabated today, with an estimated total of 300,000 acres gone each year. What is even more astounding is the vast majority of these losses took place in the less populated areas of the Amazon, where human intervention is less likely to cause major damage. This leaves the small slice of the rainforest that remains, in which the big-eyed bat and the other two species reside, highly vulnerable and at risk of being lost forever.
Why Are Bats Popular?
Apart from the fact that all three bats live in the amazon rainforest, an area of vast biodiversity, there is another reason why they are so popular among wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. Bats are fascinating creatures that can perform amazing feats of agility and acrobatics. There is evidence that even in the distant past, humans viewed bats as magical creatures that possessed supernatural qualities. Today, the fascination with bats is undoubtedly a reflection of their astonishing abilities combined with their magical appearance. The fact that they are quite intelligent and can emit a range of interesting and unique sounds, makes them even more appealing.
Bats play a crucial role in our ecosystem. It is estimated that they consume at least 20 million tons of insects each year, which directly translates to around 10% of the world’s total insect intake. The presence of these giant insect-eaters has certainly benefited human beings, as it keeps the insect population under control and prevents them from developing resistance to pesticides. Bats also help keep the balance of nature by eating the potentially harmful insects that could threaten the existence of other creatures. So, not only do they provide us with important nutrients, they also help maintain the very structure of our planet by keeping things in check.
As fascinating and important as they are, bats are still considered animals, and although they do not pose a threat to humans per se, they could still carry diseases that may affect our health. For these reasons, it is quite important that we understand their behavior and learn to co-exist with these amazing creatures.
Biology Of The Big-Eyed Bat
The big-eyed bat is one of the three bats that make up the amazon rainforest, the other two being the tiny mouse-like fruit-eater and the agile yellow-eyed bat. Like all bats, the big-eyed bat has four distinct fingers on each of its two hands. The thumb is also a part of the anatomy of this animal. It has a thick, furry tail that is used for balance and as an extra limb when leaping between trees. In addition to its tail, the big-eyed bat also has long, straight, silky hair that hangs from its nose to cover its mouth – a unique adaptation that gives it a fluffy appearance. This is in contrast to the two other bats in the region, whose faces are largely hidden by hair.
The big-eyed bat’s nose is a vital part of its biology. When it sniffs an object, it effectively “tastes” the surroundings and identifies any potential food sources, including other animals and plants. In fact, the bat’s nose is so important that when it encounters a substance that it does not recognize, it will refuse to eat it until its sense of smell has been restored by some form of olfactory therapy. This is in contrast to the other two members of its genus, which ignore smells complete and rely on their eyesight alone to hunt their food. The presence of this nose-like structure may also be related to its other unique feature – the big-eyed bat’s round, bulging eyes. These are set deep into its head and are so large that when one of the animals is in flight, its eyes are said to look like they are emerging from its head.
Like other bats, the big-eyed bat’s ears are an important part of its anatomy, enabling it to listen and pinpoint prey that is much louder and more distant than its own squeaks would suggest. Like many other animals, the big-eyed bat’s ears help keep its head cool by acting as a radiator, pumping blood through capillaries that lead to the brain. As a result of this increased blood flow and body heat, the ears may be partially fried after a particularly taxing day of hunting.
One of the main predators of the big-eyed bat is the jaguar. However, unlike other mammalian predators, such as cats and dogs, the jaguar attacks its prey by surprise, using its powerful back legs to throw the creature off balance and deliver a vicious bite to the neck. Like many other predators, the jaguar primarily attacks large animals, such as monkeys and deer, but it will also go after any animal that is larger than itself. In this way, the big-eyed bat has the potential to balance the predator-prey relationship by eating the animals that eat its main food source, the cashew fruit.
Like many other animals, the big-eyed bat is predominantly a nocturnal creature, which means that it spends its day in the depths of the forest, hidden from the sun’s harsh rays. However, like the other two members of its genus, the mouse-like fruit-eater and the agile yellow-eyed bat, it is not a complete night-time animal, coming out to hunt in the middle of the day. This unusual habit is thought to be an adaptation that enables the animal to have better visual acuity and to capture more prey.
Hunting And Food
Like many other animals, the big-eyed bat is a hunter and a food source, relying on its keen eyesight and quick reflexes to spot and capture food, which is then pulled back into its mouth by a long tongue.
There are a number of stories and legends surrounding the Amazon rainforest and its inhabitants. One of the most popular is the tale of the giant anteater. In this tale, the big-eyed bat and the other two animals are shown as the parents of a magical creature that is half anteater and half bat. This creature can fly and has the ability to change its shape and size at will, enabling it to fit itself perfectly into small spaces such as a mouse hole. Unfortunately, this creature is greedy and will readily attack and feed on other animals, including the elderly and newborn babies. This will come back to haunt it eventually, as one day, its offspring will rebel and wipe out their entire clan, leaving them with no food and no breeding grounds. The giant anteater is ultimately defeated and consumed by a pack of wild dogs – the same animals that it was originally hunting and feeding on, illustrating the delicate balance of nature and how interconnected all living things on this planet are. This also shows that no creature is an island, as even the most unique and independent-minded organism will eventually succumb to the laws of nature, which remain the same regardless of whether it is living in the jungles of Brazil or the frozen tundra of northern Scandinavia.