cry! slaps! prisoners! The little bat wins.

One morning in the rainforest in Panama, a small fruit bat was living up to its rivals. The odds don’t seem to be in his favour.

The winged mammal, the short-tailed sepia bat, weighed about half an ounce. But his six opponents, the two-lipped bat, were twice as heavy and occupied the covered corner where the little bat wanted to sit. Even worse, larger bats have been known to feed on smaller animals, such as frogs, katydids, and smaller bats—including the short-tailed bats of the cepa.

None of this was bothered by this short-tailed bat Seiba, who proceeded to scream, shook his wings, and throw his body at a group of larger bats, slapping one of them in the face more than 50 times.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Ahana Aurora Fernandez, a behavioral biologist at the Natural History Museum in Berlin, who saw a recording of bats but was not involved in the research that produced them. It’s a racket for six,” said Dr. Fernandez. “He shows absolutely no fear.”

The little bat war came to fruition when the big bats ran away. The angle is clear, the short-tailed Spa bat moved inward, and a minute later he was joined by his companion, who had been carelessly following the fight from nearby.

Mariana Muñoz Romo, a biologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and her colleagues observed this amusingly sized brawl and two similar incidents of bullying at other roosts, who were observing the sexual preferences of bats with larger marginal lips. In research published in March in the journal Behavior, they asked how often smaller bats fight off larger bats. When it comes with the risk of eating, why would you choose a fight?

The researchers originally set out to study marginal-lipped bats, which were recently discovered to smear their arms with a fragrant, sticky substance, likely to attract mates. The animals also have an impressive appetite, they have been observed eating a large number of frogs.

“Sometimes they nap with the frog hanging from their mouths and then they wake up and continue eating,” said Rachel Page, a scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and author of the research paper.

Marginal-lipped bats have never been observed to eat the short-tailed sepia bat. Dr Muñoz Romo said a previous report of an abandoned house overrun by marginal-lipped bats pointed to skeletal remains of short-tailed cepa bats on the ground below.

The short-tailed sepia bat is common in Central and South America. The small size of the males does not prevent them from being aggressive. Bats prefer to roost in sheltered pits in the roofs of tropical caves, said Maria Sagot, a behavioral ecologist at State University of New York Oswego. “The groups usually live in those holes,” said Dr. Sagot, who was not involved in the new study. “They usually fight for a good position in those holes.” She added that males also fight to defend the harem of their fellow males.

Male short-tailed bats have a repertoire of spiraling maneuvers along their wings. First, they mutter or shake them, trying to scare others from a distance. Then they slap the faces of other bats with the tips of their wings, flinging their bodies and biting – the same tactics the short-tailed seiba bat used against his marginal-lipped opponents. The authors hypothesize that this innate aggression may have caused the small racket to attack its larger neighbors to defend its female mate.

Another question related to the bat battle prize: a corner in a concrete yard where researchers were studying them. “You have four corners inside,” said Dr. Muñoz Romo. “Why this corner if you have three more inside?”

The researchers hypothesized that the microclimate of the desired angle made it more streamlined, darker, or more protective. “We expect a lot about what makes roost attractive to bats,” Dr. Fernandez said, adding that they often do not accept synthetic roosts.

The authors’ final hypothesis speculates that the short-tailed Seba bat may have launched a preemptive attack. “Maybe these guys were just so bitchy that they were like, ‘Don’t even touch us. We will not be easy prey for you, said Dr. Page.

Researchers hope to understand whether many short-tailed bats sepia choose these fights or if there are few aggressive males, said Dr. Page.

Although the video makes Seiba’s short-tailed bat “completely annoying” and the marginal-lipped bat “very peaceful,” Dr. Muñoz Romo speculated that the previously unseen dynamics could give the smaller aggressor reason to be angry. The short-tailed sepia bats probably crouched in the corner first, before the larger, marginal-lipped bats took over.

“Who is the first to arrive?” She asked. “Who replaces whom?”

The short-tailed bat Seiba was in no immediate danger of being eaten thanks to the excellent timing of his crusade: it was ten in the morning, and the predatory bats returned from a feast night, though he may not have known it.

“Imagine that you have to eat a large pizza after you have already eaten everything for hours,” said Dr. Muñoz Romo.

Rescued by the little bat, who was saved by the stomachs of his enemies, he took care of himself and immediately fell asleep, resting his wings when he needed to be slapped again.

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