Spring and summertime in Taiwan is gestation time for many different species of bats. Bats like to choose secluded areas with access to plenty of food in which to perch during gestation. Taipei Zoo is home to many Japanese house bats — a common sight in big cities — but signs of the much rarer Formosan woolly horseshoe bat can also be found in many places within the zoo. Researchers at the zoo were recently fortunate enough to observe first-hand an infant Formosan woolly horseshoe bat’s development as it went through the process of learning to look after itself independently.
According to the zoo, using an identification ring on its wing, researchers discovered that a particular Formosan woolly horseshoe returns to the same cave within a display area of the zoo every year during springtime to gestate. Mother bats hold their newborn pup in front of their chest and wrap both their wings around it to protect it. They will occasionally allow their pup to hold on by itself and have a go at spreading its wings. During the growth phase, an infant bat will stay close to its mother’s side to learn how to forage for food and pick up general life skills. This continues until the bat is able to look after itself independently; only then will the mother leave the cave.
The zoo said that on one occasion researchers observed that when the mother bat they were monitoring returned to the cave and tried to hug her two-month-old infant, the baby bat began to respond vigorously and emit social interaction sounds, showing that it was beginning to reject its mother and was preparing for independence. The researchers were surprised and delighted to be afforded the rare opportunity to record the interaction between a mother bat and her infant, and the discovery has provided important new observations about the Formosan woolly horseshoe bat.
Photo courtesy of Taipei Zoo 照片：台北市立動物園提供
Taipei Zoo says that it is currently the mating season for bats, so if you look up at the nighttime skies above cities, you will likely catch a glimpse of bat silhouettes soaring through the sky. If a member of the public comes across a lone infant bat and is unsure what to do, the zoo recommends returning to the spot where one found it at dusk and placing it on a wall on top of a paper towel or a piece of cloth. After a few hours, its mother will return to pick it up and take it home.
(Liberty Times, translated by Edward Jones)
Photo courtesy of Taipei Zoo 照片：台北市立動物園提供
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