In May 2021, a set of photographs supposedly showing a baby albino bat was widely circulated on social media.
The "animal" seen here isn't an animal at all. This is actually a small plush doll.
This doll appears to have been made by Anna Yastrezhembovskya, an artist from Russia who sells similar figurines on her Etsy page. We haven't been able to find a listing for this specific item, but Yastrezhembovskya did share several photos of this plush albino baby bat doll to her Instagram in October 2019.
In June 2020, Yastrezhembovskya posted a message on her Instagram explaining that some fraudulent websites were claiming that they were selling the doll. Yastrezhembovskya's work, however, is only available via her Etsy page:
Again!!! ? Scammers still can’t calm down and again steal my photos. Now they are “selling” the white bat. They use my photos, but they’re sending to buyers another things. Scroll through the photo to see an example of what they are sending. I want to warn everyone, I sell my works ONLY in the store on Etsy - a link in the profile, or in the instagram. All other stores and stuff are SCAMMERS!!! Please be careful. Do not be fooled.
Yastrezhembovskya talked to MyModernMet.com about her work in 2019. The Russian artist said that she primarily works in felt and that these figurines typically take 12-14 hours to make:
“My first toy wasn’t nearly as pretty, it was rather funny but I enjoyed the process so much that I kept trying. I was felting during my free time, even at night, and I got better with each toy I made ... I am flattered that my bats won the hearts of so many people, but the amount of orders I got was terrifying ... Of course, I will keep felting as many bats as I can, but I want people to understand that these toys are fully handmade, so it’s a fairly lengthy process.”
The internet has a relatively difficult time determining the difference between dolls and genuine real-world animals, apparently. Photographs of figurines featuring albino tarantulas, four-eyed goats, tiny birds, giant moths, and adorable bunnies have all been shared on social media as if they were real animals.