In only four days of photography at Hala Bala Wildlife Sanctuary, Merlin photographed 15 bat species, in addition to the Naked Bat (Cheiromeles torquatus), Spotted-Winged (Balionycteris maculata) and Tailless (Megaerops ecaudatus) Fruit Bats.
The Naked Bats were netted over a beautiful, crystal clear pool in a mountain stream–teeming with leeches. The first night at Hala Bala, four Naked Bats bombarded our net at one time. Rain came the next two nights, and we didn’t catch any more. By our fourth and final night, the rain had stopped and the Naked Bats returned to drink.
These bats are big and powerful with razor sharp claws. When tangled in a mist net, they can be a formidable challenge to remove, relying on their claws almost as much as their frighteningly large teeth and powerful jaws to intimidate anyone attempting to remove them. However, once they discover they are not about to be eaten, they are gentle giants. The furless bodies of Naked Bats remind me of Yoda from Star Wars. Their wings are equipped with unusual pockets to tuck them into and out of the way when not in flight. The tails are quite long. Boy, do they squeal when caught in the net. But for me, their most distinguishing characteristic is their stinky smell.
Daniel didn’t find their fragrance offensive. In fact, he got along famously with the Naked Bat he and Merlin photographed in the studio.