A white bat with pinkish eyes, nose, mouth and bones was recently spotted in Samal Island in Davao del Norte.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Davao Region explained that the bat is a Cynopterus brachyotis, also known as the lesser short-nosed fruit bat.

“Like all other bats, these species are usually brown and black. But due to a genetic anomaly called albinism, its melanin production is altered causing [its] white appearance. This is due to a series of genetic mutations most likely passed from its parents,” DENR-Davao Region wrote in a Facebook post.

Albino fruit bats are among the thousands of bat species around the world that hold a significant role in the ecosystem, said the agency.

“In fact, they are one of the key players in the restoration of our forests that have gone through destruction. Through their affinity for several plants and ability to disperse seeds in the vast land of our forests, trees can grow again. No wonder they are tagged as the ‘farmers of the forest,'” DENR regional office said.

Around 500 plant species rely on these bats to pollinate them. At the same time, these bats also rely on plants and fruits to survive, including bananas, mangoes, peaches, guava, agave, and other fruit trees.

“In Davao, there is no durian if not for these fruit-eating bats,” DENR added

Bats are one of the wildlife species protected under Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, which means harming or killing them is punishable by law.

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