Woolly bat personalities

Caroline Schoner protecting Merlin's camera from rain, while photographing pitcher plants Photo taken by Michael Schoner
Caroline Schoner protecting Merlin’s camera from rain.
Photo by Michael Schoner

Heavy and unpredictable rains made field photography in Brunei difficult. It was a great relief when we were finally able to obtain mealworms so we could keep tiny woolly bats (Kerivoula hardwickii) in our studio. Weighing less than a US nickel, they had been considered too small to be kept in captivity longer than overnight. But under Merlin’s watchful eye, we were able to tame and keep a cast of four. In fact, they turned out to be some of the most fun bats we’ve worked with.  By the second night they had learned to come to our hands for mealworms without our even trying to teach them, and soon learned to get Merlin’s attention when hungry by literally getting in his face.

Hardwicke's woolly bat
Hardwicke’s woolly bat
Woolly bat emerging from a Nepenthes hemsleyana pitcher
Woolly bat emerging from an N. hemsleyana pitcher

Finally having found our lost luggage and acquiring mealworms, all we needed was tame bats of varied personalities and talents. Among the four bats we kept, only one cooperated for portraits. Another emerged from a Nepenthes hemsleyana perfectly for our first and only shot of a woolly bat leaving a pitcher, but never performed again for any picture we needed.  Two others, who seemed least likely initially to perform, became stars days later when we needed photos of bats entering pitchers. View more photos in our gallery!

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5 thoughts on “Woolly bat personalities

  1. Paula & Merlin, thank you for the pleasure of glimpsing into your interesting ‘Journeys with bats’, I thoroughly enjoy your updates and beautiful photo’s.
    Go well,
    Cathy

  2. Wow! If people can realize that bats have distinct personalities, much like their beloved dog or cat or bird, maybe they will learn to love bats for being the unique creatures that they are.

  3. Oh, by the way: As soon as you had left Brunei, we had no more rain… Merlin, I think you were right!

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