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Scarce white bat? No, photos of plush toy

“White bat one of the most scarce in the world,” reads a Facebook post doing the rounds in South Africa. 

It shows four photos of a person holding what seems to be a small white bat striking different poses.

The post has gone viral, with more than 27.2 million views on Facebook since it appeared on 2 July 2020. The claim has also been shared on Twitter and features in an article on the Nigerian blogsite Opera News

But do the photos really show a rare white bat?

‘Baby albino vampire plushie’

A reverse image search reveals that the photos are actually of a toy called the baby albino vampire plushie.

AliseShop, a website that sells the toy, describes it as “a plush bat and it looks very realistic. The wings can be left straight out, or folded to pose the bat in a more upright position. The wings are not stiff but can be used to pose the bat.”

White bat species found in South America

There are two species of pure white bat.

One is the Honduran white bat which is found in the rainforests of eastern Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. It is classified as near threatened by the IUCN Red List, which documents species vulnerable to extinction. 

The other is the northern ghost bat native to South America and the Caribbean. It is not believed to be endangered but is considered rare, with few sightings each year. 

Rare species of white bats do exist. But the photos in the viral Facebook post are of a plush toy that looks nothing like a real white bat. – Naledi Mashishi


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