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World’s smallest bat might be living with Buddha’s footprint

Feb 22. 2020
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By The Nation

Phra Phutthabat Cave in Krabi could be housing a tiny colony of Kitti’s hog-nosed bats – the world’s smallest species and one that’s under dire threat of extinction.

They can be found clinging to the ceiling, 10 metres up, just behind the Buddha’s footprint that gives the cave its name.

Niwat Wattanayommanaporn of the Krabi Culture Council said on Thursday (February 20) that he’d learned of the little bat’s presence there from a local tour guide.

He led officials of Than Bok Khorani National Park, where the cave is located near Ban Rai Yai in Ao Luek district, and members of a local cave explorers club, in search of the colony. 

“There were 20 small bats clinging to the ceiling of the cave,” Niwat said. “We had to use a ladder to take pictures because they’re so tiny and so far above the ground.

“They have a reddish-brown body and black wings like the Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, so we’re looking for experts to verify what kind of bat it is.”

Assoc Prof Dr Suree Poompamorn was apparently a step ahead, spotting the small bats inside the cave and by now already awaiting expert verification.

He’s previously identified species in nearby Klang Cave as false vampire bats and Rousette bats, the latter also known as Egyptian fruit bats and large in size.

“Kitti’s hog-nosed bat was discovered in Kanchanaburi, so this cave would be the second place in Thailand where the world’s smallest bat has found a home,” Suree said.

Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, sometimes called the bumblebee bat, is arguably also the world’s smallest mammal, just 29-33 millimetres in length and weighing around two grams. 

Known for its distinctive pig-like snout, it lives in colonies that range greatly in size but average out to 100 individuals per cave.

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