Bats are cute, furry creatures that I’ve always liked and admired. Still, in a large order of animals like the bats, there are always going to be a few that are weird and… less cute. Maybe even ugly. Today’s animal, at least to me, falls in that category. But you can judge for yourself.

A hairless bat showing off its hairless body. Image by Tasnim choudhury, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hairless bats live in Southeast Asia and Oceania; in Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, the Philippines and Thailand. They roost mainly in caves or hollow trees. They are found in lowland areas, and roost in large colonies. In some parts of its range, the hairless bat is quite uncommon, while in others it is considered a pest.

Hairless bats have a body length of 13 – 14.5 cm, with an additional 5.6 – 7.1 cm coming from the tail. They have black skin that is thick and is all wrinkly and weird looking. These bats have pouches along both sides of their bodies, which open towards the back ends of the bats. They can tuck their wings into these pouches, which then allows the bats to crawl around on four feet without impediment.

The most obvious feature of hairless bats is their lack of fur. They aren’t completely hairless, though, as they have hair in some odd spots on their body. A patch of hair covers the bats’ throat pouches, from which a strongly scented secretion is exuded. Another strange spot for hair is the bats’ first toes on each hind foot — these are covered in bristle-like hairs, and have flat nails instead of claws. These toes are believed to be used for grooming.

Hairless bats are insectivorous, and usually hunt in the early evening. Because of their relatively large size, hairless bats have less to fear from predators, and so can leave their roosts earlier than other bats, getting the best choice of food. They generally hunt over streams or clearings, eating termites and other insects.

Hairless bats are also known as naked bulldog bats, because their heads look a bit like bulldogs. As I said, I don’t really find them that cute (I’m not a huge fan of bulldogs). Still, some people might find these guys adorable, you never know.

Cover image by Tasnim choudhury, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons, cropped to fit