Bio Facts: Bat, Seba’s Short-tailed
Seba's Short-tailed Bat
Southern Mexico southward to Bolivia, Paraguay, and SE Brazil
Moist evergreen and dry deciduous forests, usually below 3,200 feet but up to 5,000 feet above sea level
Head and body length is 1.8 to 2.5 inches; tail length is 0.1 to 0.5 inches; forearm length is 1.3 to 1.75 inches and the weight is usually 0.35 to 0.7 ounces. Color is generally dark brown to rust.
Approximately 20 to 25 years
Females are sexually mature at 6 months of age.
In the wild, they eat at least 50 different species of fruits such as bananas, guavas, wild figs, and plantains, pollen, nectar and insects. They generally forage close to the ground. In the Zoo, they are fed bat mix and assorted fruits.
Short-tailed fruit bats enter a state of torpor when food is lacking. They are gregarious and roost in groups of 10 to100 in caves, hollow trees, tunnels, road culverts, and less commonly in rocks, under leaves and in buildings. There are two types of roosts: harem (adult male with many females) and bachelor (adult and sub adult males without a harem). Peak activity is right after sunset.
Two reproductive periods occur annually. The larger period coincides with peak fruit productions from June through August and the other coincides with flower blooming at the end of the dry season from February through May. Gestation is 115-120 days. Usually 2 young are produced annually. Newborns weigh about 0.175 ounces.
The short-tailed fruit bat has an excellent sense of smell, which aids in their location of food. Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight. The bat wing is essentially a modified hand, with a thin membrane of skin connecting the elongated finger and forelimb bones. The thumb has a claw, which aids in manipulating food and in crawling on and clinging to surfaces. They communicate through a rich variety of vocalizations, including warbles of greetings between male and female, and screeches by which a harem male threatens other males and controls his females.
Bats are important dispersers for many plants. They also are important as pollinators to many plant species.
Short-tailed fruit bats are considered to be pests. Considerable damage has been reported to mangoes, coffee beans, guavas, pawpaws, almonds and other cultivated products.
There are many associations connected with this nocturnal creature, the majority of which have been fostered during the nineteenth century in eastern and central Europe since the connection of ‘Dracula’ and vampires. The former is believed to have taken the form of a bat when seeking out his prey. The negative aspects of this legend were drawn from country folklore and led many to associate the animal with death, disaster or the sign of spirits or the devil at play. Hence, if a bat should fly near you it was thought that someone would betray you, or even worse, affect your daily life with either a curse or enchantment.
A bat flying around the outside of a house or into a room was thought to indicate that a period of misfortune would befall someone known by the family. Bats on the wing were seen to have different meanings. If many were seen before twilight then fair weather would ensue, and for perhaps obvious reasons, to see one actually hit a building whilst on the wing was a sure sign of rain.
Some beliefs originated in Africa and Australia and are universally known. Often thought of as an extremely lucky animal, many would traditionally carry a bat bone to provide protection and encourage prosperity. In fact, although often associated with the darker aspects of what some may call witchcraft, the opportunity to become invisible at will was thought possible by carrying a right eye of a bat in the pocket. To kill one would shorten the life of a man according to folklore in Africa and Australia as the life of a bat was seen to parallel that of man. And, if you ever found one entangled in your hair, be careful not to hurt the animal but get ready for a change of hairstyle as it was thought to encourage bad luck to head your way if the bat was not released by cutting the hair.
Habitat destruction, hunting, use of pesticides and persecution seriously threaten bats around the world. Protection of key roosting sites, particularly those where thousands of individuals can gather is a primary conservation tool.
Jacksonville Zoo History:
Our prolific colony of this species was the first to be exhibited here when they arrived in August 1990.