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Bat Appreciation Day

April 17, 2015

It’s BAT APPRECIATION DAY!!!

Celebrate with us with more than 40 bat species across all of our national parks for this special day. These bats contribute greatly to our natural world by eating insects, spreading seeds, and most especially pollinating plants.

The National Park of American Samoa has two fruit bats that are especially distinctive: they are renowned for being large (with a wing span up to 3 feet wide) and active both day and night. Pteropus samoensis (pe’a vao) is commonly called the Samoan fruit bat. It is presently found only in the Samoan Archipelago and Fiji. It once occurred in Tonga but is now extinct there. The other fruit bat, Pteropus tonganus (pe’a fanua), has several common names such as the Insular, White-naped, White-necked or Tongan fruit bat. It has a wider distribution in the Pacific, ranging from islands near Papua New Guinea to the Cook Islands.

During the daytime, our fruit bats form large roosting groups or colonies of hundreds to thousands of bats. These colonies are generally organized according to their reproductive status and may be composed of bachelor males, clusters of females defended by an adult male (suggesting a harem mating system), or groups of females and their young.

During the daytime, our fruit bats form large roosting groups or colonies of hundreds to thousands of bats. These colonies are generally organized according to their reproductive status and may be composed of bachelor males, clusters of females defended by an adult male (suggesting a harem mating system), or groups of females and their young.

In American Samoa, fruit bats can be seen flying, soaring, feeding, or just hanging in trees. Although individuals of the two species overlap in size (adults weigh 300-600 grams), there are ways to differentiate them from a distance. When silhouetted against the sky, the pe’a vao has a more triangular shape, with wings that are slightly scalloped and relatively dark and opaque. Their flight appears more relaxed, usually with slower wing beats and deeper wing strokes. It is not unusual to observe them soaring in the air in the day, taking advantage of rising currents of warm air (thermals) to seemingly float up and about without flapping their wings.

Join in the efforts to help #SaveTheBats! Visit bat conservation.org or their Facebook page, Save The Bats to learn more.

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