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Is This ‘Human-Sized’ Bat in the Philippines for Real?

The answer is yes...and no.
giant golden-crowned flying fox, philippines, megabat, viral
Collage: VICE / Image: @AlexJoestar622

Countless photos go viral online and no one really knows why. Most of the time, they’re pretty random. Case in point: this photo of a giant bat that people can’t seem to look away from, for obvious reasons.

It was posted on Twitter on June 24 and now has over 109,000 retweets and more than 260,000 likes as of press time.

Naturally, people had questions: What is this nightmarish creature? Is the photo even real? What do these giant bats eat? Do they swoop up innocent children with a flap of their majestic wings as they disappear into the Twilight Zone?


Well, according to fact-checking website Snopes, the photo is legit. And so is the giant upside-down bat. The famous photo was posted on Reddit as early as August 2018, re-shared on Facebook in May 2019, and is now getting another wave of viral attention on Twitter.

The sleeping creature in question is widely believed to be a species of megabat known as the giant golden-crowned flying fox.

While one may be absolutely horrified to know that the megabat isn’t just a comically photoshopped nightmare, perhaps you may find some comfort in knowing that the term “human-sized” is kind of an exaggerated description.

It turns out that while its wingspan is indeed “human-sized,” ranging from 1.5 metres to 1.7 metres, the body length of the giant golden-crowned flying fox varies between 178 to 290 millimetres.

And, in case you’re concerned about being snatched into oblivion by one of these megabats, they’re actually pretty light, weighing only up to 1.2 kilograms. They are also herbivorous, their diet consisting mainly of fruits like figs and lamio.

Endemic to forests in the Philippines, the species is currently endangered due to poaching and deforestation.

It hasn’t been confirmed if the bat shown in the viral photo is indeed the giant golden-crowned flying fox, especially because it does not have a golden crown.

There are 79 listed bat species in the Philippines, of which 26 are megabats, but the giant golden-crowned flying fox is by far the largest.

Other remarkably large megabats include the Livingstone’s fruit bat (found in Southeast Africa), the Sulawesi flying fox (found in Indonesia), and the Pacific flying fox (found across the Pacific).

In any case, it’s best to just let sleeping bats lie.