scream! Slap! Pau! The little bat wins.

One morning in the Panamanian rainforest, a small fruit bat intensified its competition. It seems that the chances are not in his favor.

The winged mammal, Seba’s short-tailed bat, weighed about half an ounce. But his six opponents, fringed bats, were twice as heavy and occupied the veiled corner where the little bat wanted to spend the night. What’s worse is that larger bats feed on small animals such as frogs, catidides and smaller bats – including Seba’s short-tailed bats.

None of this alarmed Seba’s short-tailed bat, which kept screaming, flapping its wings, and tossing its body at a group of larger bats, hitting one in the face more than 50 times.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Ahana Aurora Fernandez, a behavioral biologist at the Natural History Museum in Berlin who watched a recording of the bats but was not involved in the study that created it. “It’s one bat for six,” Dr. Fernandez said. “He shows no fear at all.”

The militancy of the little bat paid off when the big bats escaped. The corner was clear, and Seba’s short-tailed bat moved, which was joined a minute later by his companion, who watched the battle closely.

This amusing fight and two similar incidents of bat harassment in other shelters were observed by Mariana Munoz-Romo, a biologist at the Smithsonian Institution for Tropical Research, and her colleagues, who observed the sexual preferences of larger fringed bats. In an article published in March in Behavior magazine, they asked how often small bats oppose larger ones. When you are at risk of being eaten, why fight?

Initially, researchers set out to study fringed bats, which were recently found to smear a sticky, fragrant substance on their hands, potentially attracting mates. The animals also have an impressive appetite and have been observed to eat large frogs.

“Sometimes they take a nap with the frog hanging from their mouths and then wake up and continue to eat,” said Rachel Page, a scientist at the Smithsonian Institution for Tropical Research and author of the article.

Fringed bats have never been seen eating Seba’s short-tailed bat. But a previous report of an abandoned house infested with fringed bats noted the skeletal remains of Seba’s short-tailed bats on the ground below, Dr Munoz-Romo said.

Seba’s short-tailed bats are common in Central and South America. The small size of men does not prevent them from being aggressive. Maria Sagot, a behavioral ecologist at SUNY Oswego, said bats prefer to spend the night in sheltered craters in the ceilings of tropical caves. “Groups usually live in these holes,” said Dr. Sagot, who is not involved in the new study. “They usually fight to take a good position in these holes.” Men also fight to protect their harem from female halves from other men, she added.

Seba’s male short-tailed bats have a repertoire of escalating maneuvers along their wings. First, they shout or shake them, trying to intimidate others from a distance. They then strike the faces of other bats with the tips of their wings, throwing their bodies and biting – the same tactic that Seba’s short-tailed bat uses against its opponents with fringe. The authors suggest that this innate aggression may have led the little bat to attack its larger neighbors to protect its companion.

Another question concerns the reward of the battle with the bats: a corner in the square concrete bed where the researchers studied them. “You have four corners inside,” said Dr. Munoz-Romo. “Why this corner if you have three more inside?”

Perhaps the microclimate of the desired place has made it blacker or more protected, researchers suggest. “We speculate a lot about what makes the night attractive to bats,” said Dr. Fernandez, adding that they often do not accept artificial shelters.

The authors’ latest hypothesis speculates that Seba’s short-tailed bat may have struck a preemptive strike. “Maybe these guys were just so cheeky as to say, ‘Don’t even bother us.’ We will not be easy prey for you, “said Dr. Page.

Researchers hope to find out if Seba’s many short-tailed bats choose these battles or if there are only a few aggressive men, Dr. Page said.

Although the video makes Seba’s short-tailed bat “absolutely annoying” and the fringed bats “super peaceful,” Dr. Munoz-Romo speculated that previous unprecedented dynamics could give the smaller aggressor reason for his rage. Perhaps Seba’s short-tailed bats settled in the corner first, before the larger fringed bats conquered.

– Who is the first to arrive? she asked. “Who displaces whom?”

Seba’s short-tailed bat was not in imminent danger of being swallowed by the excellent weather for his crusade: it was 10 a.m. and the predatory bats had returned from a night feast, though he may not have known it.

“Imagine having to eat a big pizza after you’ve eaten everything for hours,” said Dr. Munoz-Romo.

Saved from the full bellies of his enemies, the little bat recovered and fell asleep instantly, flapping its wings when it had to strike again.

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