Bird Families

Chinese Researchers Study Deadly Bat Coronaviruses Near Wuhan Wildlife Market

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The brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) is a medium-sized bat. This species differs from other species of the family of Smooth-nosed bats (Vespertilionidae) by the enormous size of the ears in comparison with the size of the body.

Habitat, habitats

The long-eared eagle is found in Eurasia, from Ireland to Sakhalin, as well as in North Africa. The northern border of the range runs about 60 N, the southern border - through North Africa, North India, Palestine, Ulaanbaatar.

The life of the ushanovs is closely related to woody vegetation. Forests, and often city gardens and parks, are the most characteristic habitats of the common long-eared bat.

What does a brown long-eared bat look like: photo and description

The body length of the animal ranges from 44 mm to 52 mm, the length of the tail is slightly less than the length of the body. The brown long-eared bat weighs 6-12 grams.

In appearance, it is in many ways similar to its close relative - a rather large gray long-eared bat (Plecotus austriacus), and only a specialist can often distinguish between these two species.

The length of the ears of the animal considerably exceeds two-thirds of the length of the body. When the long-eared bat is at rest, this feature may not be noticed, since at this time the ears are folded and covered with a flying membrane, but the tragus remains erect. The animal hides its ears, apparently in order to protect them from damage or attack, for example, by blood-sucking insects, and also in order to prevent moisture loss through a large surface of the skin. The front edges of the base of the ears above the forehead are connected by a small (about 2 mm in height) fold of skin.

In the photo, a brown (ordinary) long-eared bat has folded its ears.

The fur covering the body of the animal is fluffy and silky, on the underside of the body it is very light, almost whitish, on top it is darker - light gray, with a brown tint.

The base of the hair on both the underside and on the upper side of the body is dark brown. The ends of the hairs on the ventral side are almost white, on the dorsal side they are two-colored, the lower part is light, the terminal part is grayish-brown. Those. the hair on the lower surface of the body is two-colored, and on the upper surface it is three-colored. Juveniles are somewhat darker than adults.

The wings of the brown long-eared bat are wide and have rounded outlines. The airfoil is dark brown. The space between the tip of the nose and the eyes is covered with hair. The nostrils open at the top of the nose.

The caudal membrane grabs the hind leg to the base of the outer toe and leaves the last caudal vertebra free.

Lifestyle, tactics of flying and hunting, reproduction

Brown long-eared ears, as befits bats, are nocturnal and rarely appear before dark. During the day, they hide in attics or in the hollows of trees, catching their hind legs on the unevenness of the walls.

They live sedentary, and in the cold season they hibernate. Animals hibernate in tunnels, caves and mines, usually alone. The timing of hibernation and awakening from it depends on the temperature conditions of a given fall and spring.

At the beginning of summer, females usually bring one cubs at a time, the body of which is covered with sparse, but rather long hair. Already at the age of 5-6 weeks, juveniles almost reach the size of adults and become capable of independent life. The size of colonies of breeding females averages 20-30 individuals, which is much smaller than that of other species of bats.

Brown long-eared eats feed on various insects, including rather large ones, including moths and beetles. During the hunt, these bats fly quite close to the ground along forest roads and clearings, along forest edges. along the alleys of parks and gardens or winding near the crowns of trees. While hunting, they periodically return to their daytime shelters to rest, and then start catching insects again. The hunt ends at dawn.

The flight of brown long-eared ears is peculiar: it is fluttering, fast, but not impetuous. On the fly, the animal bends its huge ears to its back, while the tragus remains in a straightened state.

Some researchers point out that brown long-eared eats can hunt not only flying, but also crawling insects. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the ability of the animal to literally stop in the air, hovering in one place. This makes it vulnerable to nocturnal mammals, and especially cats.

Ushans destroy a large number of forest and garden pests, so their useful role can be considered very significant, especially if we take into account the gluttony of these animals.

Pandemic start point

There is extensive research on bat viruses in China. That said, research was carried out just three miles from a wildlife market identified as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deadly coronaviruses of bats are being studied very actively in China. In the course of this work, government researchers were able to isolate over two thousand different animal viruses. At the same time, scientific development was carried out near the market for wild animals - just three miles from it, follows from the report of the newspaper The Washington Times. It was this market that was recognized as the epicenter of COVID-19, the publication specifies.

Discussing how the new type of coronavirus spread around the world, the author of the publication, excerpts from which are quoted by Inopressa, drew attention to the fact that the Chinese state press had been reporting on virus research over the past several months, especially highlighting the works of Tian Junhua. who works in Wuhan with bat viruses.

The publication speculates that the strain of coronavirus, which has infected thousands of people around the world, originally mutated from bats and could infect animals and people at the wild animal market in Wuhan. According to the assumption of Chinese officials, the virus could be transmitted to people from wild animals in the specified market, since it is located near the local Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Chinese national center for bat research.

Carelessness?

At the same time, there are suspicions that work with animals that are carriers of the deadly virus was not carried out carefully enough. The basis for this conclusion is the video, which was posted on the network in December last year - on the video, the researcher Tian collects samples for research from the captured bats.

Chinese state media also reported a case in which a researcher worked without special protective equipment, as a result of which he came into contact with bat urine. True, after that, Tian was in self-isolation for 14 days - this is how much it is recommended to spend in solitude for those who may now be infected with the coronavirus.

The Wuhan Evening News wrote about Tian's work on bat viruses three years ago and noted that collecting samples for research is difficult and dangerous.

In addition, the British press last weekend announced the opening of several outlets in China, where bats and scorpions are being sold again. Here, according to British news agencies, the highly questionable practice of slaughtering small animals right at the point of sale has been resumed, the publication says.

After the coronavirus infection spread around the world, Chinese officials refused to provide samples of their coronavirus strains to researchers in the United States.

Tian Junhua has been researching viruses for many years, as confirmed by press reports, however, a search on the website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Wuhan after the coronavirus outbreak did not reveal any mention of the researcher and his activities, although it is known that that he was involved in at least two scientific studies. The newspaper tried to contact the scientist directly, but assures that this could not be done. At the Chinese Embassy in Washington, the corresponding request was also ignored.

Ushan bat photo

Often he climbs the branches of trees or along the walls of buildings, clinging to them with his tenacious fingers and collecting insects that serve him as food. The body of the long-eared bat is covered with thick fur. The upper part of it is pale yellowish, sometimes darker, to brownish brown. And only the belly is white.

The long-eared bat is common in central and northern Europe. In Russia, it is common in its European part, excluding the northern regions. It is also found in the Far East and southern Siberia. The habitats of the long-eared eagle are coniferous and deciduous forests, mountains and deserts, but everywhere in small numbers.

Perhaps these little animals meet and live around us. For example, somewhere in nature, during hiking trips, and possibly in the country, long-eared bat flies nearby. But given their small size and the fact that they are nocturnal, we do not notice them.

They wait out the day somewhere in the hollows of trees, in caves, in attics, in the crevices of buildings, wherever they find refuge. The long-eared bat lives alone, less often in pairs and very rarely in small groups. They feed not far from shelters, at the edge of a forest or in a clearing.

Once a year - in summer, the long-eared bat breeds. By the way, one calf is born, occasionally two. Babies are born helpless, naked and blind crumbs. The mother carries a cub, which is firmly attached to the nipple, until it becomes able to fly.

In caves , undergrounds and basements, the long-eared bat finds a warm refuge, where it goes for the whole winter and goes into hibernation.

In forestry long-eared benefits, because it destroys insect pests.

I suggest you watch a film about the benefits of the aerodynamic abilities of bats for humans.

Enjoy your viewing, leave comments in the form below.

Good luck to the flying mice and, of course, to us!

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