Darkness is all around you. All you have is a torch and some pickaxes. You know that this is dangerous, but yet, you venture further. Deeper into the darkness, you are greeted with spooky cave sounds. Now, with your heart racing, anything could happen. And then, out of the corner of your eye, something comes toward you. Fortunately, it is only a bat.
In this context, an idea came up when I was playing Minecraft yesterday. I have been playing Minecraft for a long time, on-and-off in my free time. After relatively recently joining iNaturalist, I have been trying to identify various animals in other media besides iNaturalist. I also have been watching The Game Theorists on YouTube for over seven years, so I thought it would be interesting to try and find out what type of bat is the Minecraft Bat.
Obviously, the first thing to do is to look at the Minecraft Wiki on Gamepedia - https://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Bat. According to the Wiki, the hit box of the mob is 0.9 Blocks by 0.5 Blocks. Now, those who have not played Minecraft may or may not be aware of the fact that every Block in Minecraft is 1.00 meter by 1.00 meter by 1.00 meter. So, this means that the hit box, but not the actual size of mob per say, is 0.9 meters by 0.5 meters.
To get the actual size of a Minecraft Bat, I need to get the pixel measurements of the Minecraft Bat. After clicking on the gif for the Minecraft Bat on the Gamepedia Minecraft Wiki, I increased the size of the window to 250% to get a better Print Screenshot of the Bat. Once pasted into a Microsoft Word file, the exogenous parts of the picture are cropped off, leaving only the white square. The picture is expanded in size until it reaches the one-inch margins of the page, and then it is touched up with increased brightness and sharpness to make it easier to count the pixels.
It ends up being that the head of the bat is a cube 6 pixels long by 6 pixels wide by 6 pixel tall. The ears of the Minecraft Bat are 3 pixels taller than its head. The body is a rectangular prism 6 pixels wide by 6 pixels long by 10 pixels in height. Each wing end ups being 16 pixels long. Adding the height of the ears, the head, the body, plus the four pixels for its lets, the total height of the bat is 23 pixels. The width of the bat is the same as the width of its head and body, or 6 pixels in girth. The length of bat is two times the length of the wings plus the length of its body, which ends up being 38 pixels long.
Now, these pixel measurements are useless without a scale. Normally, a Block in Minecraft is subdivided into pixels. There are 16 pixels across each side of a Block in Minecraft. So a Minecraft pixel is one-sixteenth of a meter, or 0.0625 meters. This is also 2.461 inches for non-metric users in the U.S. But how do I know that the pixel measurement used for the Minecraft Bat is the same as a regular Minecraft pixel?
From a technical standpoint, this one is tougher for me to figure out as it requires me to find and take a screenshot of a resting Minecraft Bat. Minecraft Bats are very skittish; if you get too close to them, they fly away. While I do have screenshots of Minecraft Bats, they are all when the mobs are flying, or too far away for me accurately determine a sense a scale. Fortunately, I did find a bat hanging upside down in a Minecraft Block-sized hole. Unfortunately, as I tried to take a screenshot, it flew away. Despite this setback, it did appear that the Minecraft Bat takes up a quarter of the space in empty air. Keep in mind this is an approximation that I observed. It is not an accurate measurement.
While it seems that the hitbox measurement and the approximated size determination are very similar, which is a good thing, bats themselves are definitely not this large in real life. Or are they? According to Bat Conservation International at https://www.batcon.org/article/goldencrowned-flying-fox/, one of the largest bats in the world are the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox (Acerodon jubatus), which have a body length of up to 45 centimeters and a wingspan of 1.5-1.7 meters. Looking at the Minecraft Bat, it is entirely dark brown. Acerodon jubatus has a golden/orange head, which is not true of the Minecraft Bat.
If it is not this particular bat, then perhaps it could be another one. Searching for largest Brown Bats in the world brings ups the Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) in North America. From Shenandoah National Park, https://www.nps.gov/shen/learn/nature/big-brown-bat.htm, their wingspans are 13 to 16 inches long. Also, they can have dark brown fur. Is this Bat the inspiration for the Minecraft Bat? The problems is that there is technically more than one “Big Brown Bat”.
Another “Big Brown Bat” found in the same genus as E. fuscus is the Serotine/Northern Bat, Eptesicus serotinus/Eptesicus nilssonii. From Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_bat, these two species are very similar, and are found in a similar range. While these two Bat species are found in Sweden, the birth place of Minecraft’s creator Notch, they have much smaller bodies and wingspans than the Minecraft Bat. More specifically, up to 53 millimeters in body length and up to 280 millimeters in wingspan.
Even listening to various bat noises is not helpful, https://wildambience.com/wildlife-sounds/flying-fox/. While the Big Brown Bat (E. fuscus) calls are higher pitched than those of Flying Foxes, https://www.usgs.gov/media/audio/big-brown-bat-eptesicus-fuscus-call, they are not exactly similar to the squeaking sounds the mob makes. However, they are more similar than the calls of the Pipistrelle species, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat_species_identification. This is true when considering that bats have different types of calls.
All in all, it appears inconclusive as to which bat is the Minecraft Bat. It seems to be an amalgamation of characteristics from different bats. Since I am not an expert in Chiropterans, it is entirely possible that I have missed some more relevant bat species. However, any and all people are welcome to help. I hope this discussion brings more appreciation for Bats. After all, they are the “night”.