|While bats are generally portrayed in horror movies as dark, creepy creatures, these mammals actually benefit the environment in a number of ways throughout Costa Rica.|
Species Found in Costa RicaOf the approximately 1,100 species of bat in the world, 110 can be found in Costa Rica. Some of the most exciting adventure activities in the country involve bats, including cave exploration and wildlife tours near bat nests, which allow visitors to view these interesting creatures up-close.
Jamaican Fruit BatIn addition to providing a unique tourism opportunity, these bats are a crucial species for the health of the environment in Costa Rica. One such bat, the Jamaican fruit bat, is critical for seed distribution.
Typically, these bats feast on guavas, papayas and bananas, but when these are difficult to find, the Jamaican fruit bat will occasionally consume nectar, pollen, leaves and even insects.
When the bats feed on fruits, they will typically gather the meal in their mouth and take it to a "dining roost" before consuming it. When it eats the fruit, it squeezes out the juice and spits out the flesh. Often, the larger seeds of the fruit are not eaten, but the bat will generally swallow the smaller seeds.
The main reason why the Jamaican fruit bat is so critical to the Costa Rican environment is the fact that it has one of the most efficient food digestion processes of all mammals, as it can process its food in approximately 15 minutes.
For this reason, the smaller seeds that are consumed cannot be digested by the time they are released as waste, helping to distribute the seeds that may not have otherwise been able to germinate.
Indirect ContibutorAdditionally, because the creature must consume food often, the Jamaican fruit bat is an indirect contributor to pollination and the dispersal of plant species that bear fruit. In total, approximately 70 percent of the fruit in the world is entirely pollinated by bats.
Due to this undeniable benefit that the Jamaican fruit bat provides to the Costa Rican environment, the species is protected throughout the country in an attempt to counteract the deforestation and any other environmental hazards.