Stupid Reddit: that’s a beautiful bat, not a monster

io9 posted a picture from Reddit of what appears to be a vampiric giant bat. Dead. It was soon revealed that this is a flying fox, a fruit eater, NOT a monster. And we are sad that this lovely amazing creature is dead.

Giant Monster Bat Slain in Australia.

Redditor treemonkey18 posted this image with the simple quote: “My Friend woke up to this thing fighting his dogs (Yes i’m from Australia).” UPDATE: The redditor later added that, “He [the friend] didn’t kill it the dog did, he is just holding it wit a stick because he didn’t want to touch it.”

As soon as I saw this, I immediately went to @bat_whisperer on Twitter to get the scoop. Sure enough, she says, this was a grey headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), the largest native megabat in Australia. Io9 gets an earful and they apologize. I think everyone got the point on this but it will still be passed around as some “monster” when it is nothing of the sort.

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 8.31.48 PM

There is still uncertainty if the picture is real but it’s certainly suffering from some forced perspective that makes it look huge. But these animals are large.

This type of bat is reminiscent of the monsters I describe in this piece about prehistoric survivors. Ignorance, not monsters.

I am very sad. I love bats. At least we can get this passed around to educate people that lovely flying mammals exist in the world to help pollinate and spread seeds. They are important and they are threatened. Human ignorance is no excuse.

Quit smiling, dude. A fascinating creature is dead.

Quit smiling, dude. A fascinating creature is dead.

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  9 comments for “Stupid Reddit: that’s a beautiful bat, not a monster

  1. Chris
    March 7, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    They are cool creatures. I used love seeing the large fruit bats at the zoo’s Nocturnal House. They were down the way from the vampire bats (which are tiny). Sadly they closed that exhibit four years ago.

    Unfortunately, there is a warning against handling flying foxes:
    https://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/wildlife/livingwith/flyingfoxes/viruses.html

  2. Chris
    March 7, 2014 at 9:13 PM

    Okay, my kids are older so I let my zoo membership lapse. So I looked it up, and they do have an exhibit of flying foxes in an “adaption exhibit.” Except they don’t make it an artificial night during day, so they have installed a Bat-Cam:
    http://www.zoo.org/batcam

  3. Megan Davidson
    March 7, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    Sadly most states in Aus have conservative governments at present, resulting in removal of environmental protection. In Queensland there is a large, uneducated, redneck population who hate bats and other native animals. The government has encouraged these attitudes. It’s tragic.

  4. Paul Robinson
    March 8, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    They are very adaptive creatures. First time i’ve told this, but many years ago positive saw & heard a pair of large fruit bats in the forest park above Larne, County Antrim Northern Ireland. A very cold clime for the creatures,but several individuals have been prosecuted through the years for having exotic animals, you’d think impossible to smuggle into country. I was outside the caravan to empty the chemical loo at night, & stopped for a smoke, & heard strange animal noises,& on occasion, sensation of something bird like disturbing air above my head. As i habitually do i tried to recreate the animals calls & noises & more often heard the bat like cries & something swooping over my head. Difficult to see on moonless light, but in area of little light pollution, for a change & sure it was a large bat like a fruit bat, which are not native. Doubt they’d survive long in the northern climate – or here where i live in northern France.

  5. Maria
    March 9, 2014 at 4:01 AM

    It is the guys who are monsters. Poor battie. I love bats, and the flying foxes are the cutest.

  6. Bubba
    March 9, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    I have a group of these Flyingfoxes feeding in the trees in my back yard every night. they squawk and swoop all night long. they are awesome. I grew up in a suburb called fox valley, named after these guys needless to say there were thousands of them there. and yes Queensland is full of not so bright people it seems

  7. RDW
    March 9, 2014 at 7:09 PM

    Sad. In America, bats have declined dramatically in number lately, due to a fungal infection. Without bats consuming large numbers of flying insects, the quality of life is bound to decline.

  8. Paul
    March 12, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Regarding the criticism of the guys who found the bat.

    If the article is to be believed, the guy’s dogs killed the bat. Even if it wasn’t, how can someone be expected to protect their dogs from a strange creature while determining that it is an endangered animal and then find a way to separate the animals without hurting this thing? Bats frequently have rabies, even one bite could be a death sentence to this guys dogs.

    I may be interested and relieved enough to smile when I find a strange and interesting creature that was initially frightening.

    Is it wrong for a biologist to find pleasure in investigating a interesting creature?

    From the poster:
    “I’m all for protecting this planets fauna and flora but we can’t control what animals do when where[sic] not around..”

    • March 12, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      I see your point but I objected to the glorification of a ‘monster’ when it was really no such thing. That should have been caught by the news aggregator who instead spread it around as a sensational story. (I expect such behavior from Reddit though)

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