Everyone knows what a bat is. Those little flying fuzzballs with bizarre faces that hang upside down by their feet. But it seems many people aren’t aware that bats can range in size from the minute to the massive, with one family of bats, known as the “megabats”, having wingspans of up to 1.7 meters (5.6 feet).
Just recently, a Twitter user named David, aka @VeganGenesis, brought megabats to the attention of the Internet.
Yep, they're really big.
Some people were really, really terrified.
With many making an obvious comparison.
But if you’re imagining these bats as blood-sucking monsters, think again. Various users were relieved to find out that these guys are harmless fruitarians.
(They don't actually eat insects, but other kinds of bats do.)
Others quite rightly pointed out that megabats are totally adorbs, likening them to puppies of the sky.
Some people thought they'd spotted an interesting pattern...
... but they've clearly never come across a pale spear-nosed bat (Phyllostomus discolor).
One person even shared a video of megabats in action.
So what actually are megabats?
Megabats is the general name for bats belonging to the Pteropodidae family, which includes Old World fruit bats aka flying foxes. Megabats are found in tropical and subtropical parts of Africa, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. While some members of the megabat family are certainly large, others are actually rather tiny, with one species (the Mauritian tomb bat) being just 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) long.
And, as mentioned above, these guys are totally harmless, eating nothing but fruit, pollen, and the nectar of flowers. They have a very good sense of smell and excellent eyesight for locating their food, and unlike many other bats, they don't rely on echolocation. During the day they can normally be found hanging upside down in trees, although a handful of species do venture into caves.
Sadly, many megabats are threatened with extinction due to threats such as deforestation and hunting. Thanks to their diet, they are vital to the wider ecosystem, as they help to disperse seeds and pollen. One key aim of bat conservationists is to change attitudes towards these often misunderstood creatures.
So if you're still feeling a bit unnerved by the concept of the megabat, take a look at these adorable babies being looked after at Bats QLD, a bat rehabilitation center based in Queensland Australia.