Rare Cuban bats get ‘manicures’ so numbers can be counted

Rare Cuban bats get 'manicures' so numbers can be counted

HAVANA, Aug. 30th Rare bats are being pampered with manicures so that scientists can count their numbers.

The Cuban greater funnel-eared bats are confined to a cave in western Cuba and are in urgent need of conservation attention, according to international charity the Zoological Society of London.

Less than 750 of the bats remain in a single cave on the peninsula of Guanahacabibes, ZSL’s EDGE of Existence program revealed.

The funnel-eared bats live in hot caves
Image: The funnel-eared bats live in hot caves

Researchers used a low-tech but effective method for harmlessly marking the bats in the need to identify each one individually.

They used four different nail varnish colors to paint the bats’ “nails”, which enabled them to create thousands of combinations for unique markings to identify each one.

Marking bats is usually very challenging and is typically done using necklaces, arm rings or wing punches. However, scientists say this can sometimes alter behavior.

Jose Manuel De La Cruz Mora, ZSL’s Segre-EDGE fellow, based at the Natural History Museum of Pinar del Rio, said: “As the remaining population of the bats were so small and understanding their biology is fundamental to our research, we wanted to keep things as natural as possible, apart from their brightly colored nails of course.