Published: June 22, 2016

This Mammal Pollinator Has a Nose for Flowers

Birds, butterflies, and bees might come to mind when you think about pollination: they carry pollen from male to female flowers, aiding in plant reproduction. But bats are also important pollinators with some special strengths.

The long-snouted bat (Platalina genovensium) uses its elongated nose and tongue to feed on pollen and nectar inside deep or narrow flowers. Because of its size and uniquely adapted nose, the long-snouted bat is able to carry large amounts of pollen and distribute it over greater distances.

In fact, Platalina genovensium is the only bat pollinator for several different species of columnar cacti found in Peru. The long-snouted bat is currently at “near threatened” status, partly because it depends so heavily on living and feeding in areas where columnar cacti grow. This type of habitat continues to dwindle in the face of urbanization.

In other words, the long-snouted bat and the cactus work together: the bat helps to continue the diversity and growth of cactus species, while the cactus offers an essential food source. Like all other pollinators, the long-snouted bat is part of a larger ecosystem in which many organisms rely on each other.