The Mystery of Bats

Introduction

I have always been fascinated by Bats from an early age. My first real experience with one was when I was in my teens.

My parents had an apartment on the 11th floor of a building in Pokfulam, on Hong Kong island. I recall that it was a Saturday evening in summer and the veranda doors were open to let the breeze in.

Suddenly, in flew a bat! The cats went ballistic and were bouncing off the walls in an effort to catch it. It did two or three circuits of the living room and shot back out into the night sky. The whole thing had taken less than 20 seconds. The cats conducted a careful sweep of the living room for the intruder, and then went back to their beds. The excitement was over.

Bats in Culture

There is an interesting difference of opinion about bats in Western and Chinese cultures. In the West, bats are often perceived as evil. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was seen flying about as a bat when he wasn’t busy attacking Lucy Westenra. While in China, artists have long used bats to represent the five blessings: health, long life, prosperity, love of virtue, and a tranquil, natural death.

Bats in Everyday Life

Ten years ago we moved out to the Lam Tsuen valley in Tai Po. Very often when walking from the main road down to the village in the early evening, we would see several bats flying overhead, swooping after their dinner. Whether it is due to the dramatic increase in village houses and therefore the ambient lighting, I have no idea, but we rarely see them now.

In previous posts in SGW, we have paid a lot of attention to the necessity to safeguard the trees in the SAR. Recently it was pointed out to me that it is not just birds and squirrels that enjoy the safety of trees. Bats also require them for both shelter and sustenance.

A list of the trees and shrubs enjoyed by bats and a brief description.

(Unfortunately, it was not possible to provide photos of all the trees – SGW)

Acronychia pedunculata Fl: Apr to Aug; Fruit: Aug to Dec  Bats are seed dispersers

 

Alpinia oblongifolia.  Chinese galangal (cultivated).  Fl:Apr-Jun       Fr: Jun to Nov.  Bats are seed dispersers.

Bombax ceiba. Nectar. (March & April).

 

Ceiba pentandra. Kapok Tree, The tree and the cotton-like fluff obtained from its seedpods are commonly known in English as kapok, a Malay-derived name which originally applied to Bombax ceiba, a native of tropical Asia.

Desmos chinensis. Fl: Marc- Jul; Fruit: Oct- Nov; Bats are seed dispersers.

Diospyros morrisiana   Fl May to June; Fruiting Nov; Bats are seed dispersers.

Elaeocarpus sylvestris Fl Ap-May; Fruit May to Aug.  Bats are seed dispersers. The tree is up to 15 m and is found in evergreen forests at altitudes comprised between 300 and 2000 m.

Ficus variegata.  Common Red-stem Fig.  Flowering & fruiting. March to December.

Gnetum luofuense.  Fl: May to July; Fruit Aug-Oct; Bats are seed dispersers.

Melia azedarach.  Fruits (November to January). .  Fruits. Great favourites. – The fully grown tree has a rounded crown and commonly measures 7–12 metres (20–40 feet) tall.

By Majestic Lin – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=85807939

Psidium guava.  Fruits. (July to March). Widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, guava fruits can range in size from as small as an apricot to as large as a grapefruit.

Schefflera heptaphylla Fl: Aug to Sep; Fruit: Dec to Feb.  Bats are seed dispersers.

Spathodea campanulata.  Nectar.

Syzygium jambos.   Nectar.  (December to May).

Syzygium jambos.  Fruits. (June to October)

Terminalia catappa.  Fruits.  (irregularly) The fruits are a favourite for the bats –  a large tropical tree native to Asia, Australia, the Pacific, Madagascar and Seychelles.

Uvaria littoralis. Small-fruited Uvaria.  Fl May- Jun; Fruit: Sep – Dec.  Bats are seed dispersers.

The Bats

The following photos show a small selection of bats that are currently known in Hong Kong at the present time. It is estimated that there are around 25 to 26 species. As everyone is aware, nature has a habit of revealing herself to us when she is good and ready. We may well find new species being discovered soon.

All of the following photos are courtesy of the Agricultural & Fisheries Department of the Hong Kong Government and more information may be seen at their online biodiversity website here.

Horsfield’s Myotis
Unidentified Pipistrelle
Greater Bamboo Bat

 

Whiskered Myotis
Chinese Pipistrelle
Conclusion

While many people consider bats to be ‘strange and eerie’ creatures, like all living things they have every right to exist.

SGW is grateful to the Facebook Group: Bats of Hong Kong

You can visit this group and the government website provided above for more information on these fascinating creatures.

Thank you for visiting Stewart Goes Walkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like us to publish an adventure of yours, you can contact us here:

 

 

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Published by stewartgoeswalkies

Happily married man to a wonderful lady. Living in Hong Kong. In my younger days I enjoyed hiking, camping and rock climbing. I've trekked in the Himalayas and climbed Mt. Kinabalu in East Malaysia.

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