11 Amazing Facts on Indian Bats

Despite the Indian government classifying bats as vermin in the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, the Indian flying fox is sacred in India. In the Puliangulam village in in Vilathikulam, Thoothukkudi, Tamil Nadu, India, a banyan tree in the middle of local agriculture fields is home to a colony of 500 Indian flying foxes. The bats are protected by the local spirit “Muniyandi”, and the villagers make offerings of bananas and rice to the spirit and the bats.
1. With at least 109 species, India has an incredible diversity of bats. This includes one of the largest in the world, the Indian flying fox (Pteropus giganteus), one of the most colorful, the orange and black painted bat (Kerivoula picta), and one of the rarest, Salim Alis fruit bat (Latidens Salim Ali).

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2. The habits of India’s bats are as diverse as the habitats they live in. From high in the Himalayas, to the deserts of the Northwest, to the tropical forests of the East and South.

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3. Indian bats feed on fruit, nectar, insects, frogs, and even other bats.

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4. The majority of Indian bats (over 70 species) show taxonomic affinity to bats of the Southeast Asian region (i.e., Burma, Thailand, Malaysia).

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5. India has 12 species of flying foxes. Only three, the Indian flying fox, the fulvous fruit bat (Rousettus leschenaulti), and the short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus sphinx) are common throughout the country.

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6. India’s mountainous and rainy Northeast provides lush tropical habitat for flying foxes year-round.

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7. Bats are medically intriguing: their bodies have been known to host more than a hundred viruses that can be transmitted to humans – including rabies.

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8. Bats were amongst the earliest mammals to evolve.

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9. NIMHANS has identified traces of rabies virus among bats in India.

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10. Bats have been identified as source of diseases like Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome, the Nipah virus, Marburg.
Picture: Nipah virus
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11. There are two vampire bat found in India, greater false vampire bat and lesser false vampire bat
a) Megaderma lyra b) Pteropus giganteus. Both species are carnivorous, live in caves and tree hollows.

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The Nipah virus, a rare, brain-damaging virus broken out in the state of Kerala, India, for the first time and spread across India claiming hundreds of lives. The Nipah virus naturally resides in fruit bats across South and Southeast Asia, and can spread to humans through contact with the animals’ bodily fluids.

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