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Animal World: Our Co-inhabitants

Honduran White Bat-People: The Tiny Tent Makers

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We are a fascinating species that contradicts almost everything you may have known about bat-people. Unlike so many of our cousins, we are not brown or black, and we do not live in dark caves. We are white and hide under the leaves of heliconia plants to roost in the daytime. Also, we are very picky eaters. When we come out at night to forage, we are preoccupied with finding only one kind of fruit, namely, figs.

Honduran white bat-people are known for transforming heliconia leaves into stationary tents. The flowering plant is native to Mexico, Central and South America. So, how do we make our roosts? First, we want to find a large leaf somewhat close to the ground. Ideally, it will be new growth and about a meter long. Also, we prefer to use a blade that extends horizontally.

Construction begins with our snouts pressing on the underside of the leaf, near the midrib. We bite and puncture it with our canine teeth. Next, we extend the cut on both sides of the central vein. Finally, we use our claws to expand the holes we poked, which causes the leaf to collapse into a tent. And after we have modified a leaf to suit our needs, it slowly dies over about two months. So, we need to make new tents on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, we prepare multiple dwellings around the forest that we can visit. When the sun starts to rise and we’re ready to roost for the day, a bunch of us will enter a tent and cling to its roof. There we are concealed and protected from rain and danger.

As we reside mainly under heliconia leaves, any human activity that causes rainforests to shrink is a serious threat to our survival. In 2015, the International Union for Conservation of Nature rated our species as “Near Threatened.” I hope you will recognize our intrinsic value as part of Creation. So, please do what you can to protect our habitat, and that includes praying. May all of humanity soon become vegan and establish a paradise on Earth.
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