The huge golden-crowned bat, which has wings almost as broad as Tom Cruise, looks dreadful when it soars through the air spread-eagled, its lean, hairy body highlighting the size of its wings. And when it’s roosting, its stretchy black cape makes it appear like a vampire.

Despite its intimidating size, the fruit-eating megabat, a member of a species unique to the Philippines, is harmless and shows no signs of attacking people. People encroach on their habitat and hunt them illegally for sport or food, making them an endangered species.

People astonished by their size and predatory look were intrigued and terrified by viral photographs of these helpless, endangered creatures.

They were initially called “human-sized” bats when the first photographs went viral, but this erroneous description led to confusion and panic.

We need to clarify a few things before learning more about these unusual critters. First, they are not “human-sized” unless you apply a very generous definition and compare them to a “small child” rather than an average adult human.

With a wingspan of roughly 5-foot-6 and a body that ranges from seven inches to 11.4 inches and weighs less than 3 pounds, the enormous golden-crowned bat is one of the largest species of bats in the world.

The fig-loving bat is a nocturnal herbivore that hunts for roots, fruits, and vegetables at night. Its head is covered in a fluffy golden crown.

Although there are other varieties of flying fox megabats in Asia, Africa, and Australia, the golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon jubatus) is unique to the Philippine jungles, where it frequently lives in colonies with up to 10,000 members.

It spends the day hanging from its clawed toes in the trees with a group of its companions, dozing off. Sometimes, the enormous flying fox with a wingspan of less than five feet would sleep with its smaller cousins, the giant bats.

Giant Golden-crowned Flying Foxes don’t use echolocation as many other bats do; instead, they use sight and scent to find their way through the air.

By spreading fig seeds after it feeds, the flying fox contributes to reforestation throughout the Philippines while remaining unrelenting in its fight against deforestation.

Unfortunately, humans do more destruction the harder the bats work.

More than 90% of the old-growth forests in the Philippines have been destroyed, and the species has vanished from many of its former roosting locations on numerous islands, according to Bat Conservation International (BCI).

The number of golden-crowned bats has rapidly declined since 1986 when it decreased by 50%. This reduction is attributed to destroying its natural habitat and hunting for recreation, commerce, and personal consumption. Considering that The International Union protects the species for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered.

Although the Philippine Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 protects bats, the law is not upheld.

Even though most of the animals’ roosts are in protected zones, they are nonetheless mass-killed. Hunters shoot the sleeping animals while roosting, an incredibly brutal and terrible activity. Many injured animals still have their toes holding the branch when killed, preventing them from dropping.

Even though people pose a severe danger to the bat population, flying foxes are not afraid of people. They can be seen in forests close to cities or towns, perched on utility poles, or just loitering in inhabited places where they feel at ease. They can distinguish between safe and unsafe environments, though, and will move and roost in inaccessible areas, including slopes more than 1,000 feet above sea level.

According to studies, these bats are also incredibly quick learners with a high capacity for memory, like a dog in intelligence.

According to a study on operant conditioning, flying fox bats raised by humans were effectively taught to pull levers in exchange for juice rewards.

More significantly, when the bats returned to the comfortable experimental chamber three and a half years later, they removed the levers immediately because they knew they would be rewarded.

Some people may find the distinctive physical characteristics of bats to be disturbing or terrifying. Their huge eyes, pointed teeth, and leathery wings may make you feel scared or uneasy.

Despite their unfavorable reputation as murderous animals, only three of the 1,300 species of bats are known to ingest human blood. The golden-crowned flying foxes are cute if you can get over your shock at how creepy they are!

I am very sad that these bright, innocent animals are being slaughtered and losing their habitat due to deforestation. Please spread the word about this innocent, endangered species if you agree!