Sir Winslow encountered bats in almost every corner of the earth he explored. The smallest bat he found was the hog-nosed bat and the largest was the giant crowned flying fox. It was not a creature that he captured and took back to the zoo at Windy Willows because he knew this was a creature that needed to fly free.
The bat that most fascinated Sir Winslow was the New Zealand short-tailed bat. He discovered while touring the islands of Australia and New Zealand. The story of how Sir Winslow first encountered this bat is in a journal in the library at Windy Willows.
Sailing to the island he intended to explore the Tongariro National Park which had recently been established in 1887. Sir Winslow was intrigued by the idea of preserving land in its natural form so it could be enjoyed for many coming generations. The park also had several active volcanoes by which he was looking forward to finding new species of plant and wildlife.
The group had decided to set up camp near the base of Mount Raupehu which they intended to explore the following day. There were rock crevices near the camp which they thought small birds were flying into. On closer look, it was actually a bat. This bat was very unusual because it was also spending a lot of time on the ground. Sir Winslow decided to spend more time studying this particular bat because of this trait. Here is what he found:
They are relatively small weighing a maximum of 15 to 25 g, with a wingspan that only reaches up to 8 cm. The short-tailed bat may be identified by their typical two-nostril snout, the free tail, and its pointy ears. It has little claws just below its main talons needed for digging and climbing. Unlike other bat species in the world, this bat prefers to spend time on the ground searching for fruits, insects, and pollen.
Watching these cute creatures looking for bugs was very amusing for the group. After they noticed that the bat also liked fruit, so was laid out for them so they could continue to study this unusual animal.
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