Think Bats Are Creepy? Well, Check Out These Adorable Photos.

Happy Halloween!

A minor epauletted bat from Kenya<a href=http://www.merlintuttle.com/what-is-mtbc/>MerlinTuttle</a>/MTBC

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Lots of people think bats are downright frightening. After all, they do seem to check all the creepiness boxes: They come out at night; they live in dark, scary places; they communicate via high-pitch screeching.

Now multiply that by 10.

Flying foxes, also commonly known as fruit bats, are the largest flying mammal. Their wingspans stretch up to five feet. They can weigh more than two pounds and eat three times their body weight in nectar in just one night. Just check out this video from National Geographic:

With Halloween fast approaching, bats are the subject on this week’s episode of Inquiring Minds podcast. Host Indre Vikontas talks with bat expert and educator Merlin Tuttle about these somewhat cuddly creatures that often get a bad rap. “We invariably fear most what we understand least,” he says. And it turns out that we actually have a lot to thank bats for: These long-distance migrators pollinate a lot of the fruit we eat.

Tuttle, whose recent book is called The Secret Lives of Bats, has been fascinated with all kinds of bats ever since a classmate brought one for show-and-tell way back in the fourth grade. He started exploring caves near his home in Tennessee to learn more and ended up devoting his life to bat conservation. Tuttle has photographed more than 300 species on every continent where they reside.

Click above to hear Tuttle as he tells his best bat tales, explains his most interesting findings, and recounts how his childhood fascination led to strange friendships with shot-gun-toting Tennessee moonshiners.

And while you’re listening, check out these amazing photos from Tuttle’s close-up collection:

A juvenile male Wrinkle-faced bat from Trinidad

A lesser long-nosed bat pollinating saguaro cactus in Mexico

Foot of Rickett’s Big-footed Myotis

A pallid bat catching a giant desert centipede in Arizona

Minor epauletted bat from Kenya

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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