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Mulu National Park - Bat Flights

Mulu National Park - Bat Flights

Introduction I Location Map I The Show Caves I Adventure Caving I Mulu Summit I The Pinnacles I The Headhunter's Trail I
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Bat Flights

Twelve species of bats have been recorded within Deer Cave, including a colony of free-tailed bats – the Wrinkle-Lipped Bat (Chaerephon plicata), numbers of which have been estimated at between 2.5 and 3.5 million. Each evening these bats make a massive exodus from the cave forming large ring-shaped formations outside the cave mouth before moving out across the rainforest in spiralling ribbons. The bats are frequently pursued by Bat Hawks (Macheiramphus alcinus), which often succeed in capturing a bat and consuming it in flight.

Mulu National Park - Bat Flights

It has been estimated that each bat consumes between five and ten grams of flying insects each night, which means that up to two million bats will return to the cave each night with between 10 and 20 tons of food matter in their guts. This accounts for the dynamic ecosystem found within the cave, which sees a massive flow of energy from the surrounding rainforest each day and the deposition of large amounts of guano within the cave. It also makes one consider the dramatic impact that the bats must have upon the insect population numbers in the region.

 

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