GREATER BULLDOG BAT – Noctilio leporinus


Greater bulldog bat facts: The greater bulldog bat, also called the fishing bat, is a relatively large bat. These bats have a wingspan of almost three feet (1 meter), and a combined head and body length ranging from 4.6 to 5 inches (11.9 to 12.7 centimeters) Males are larger than females. Their feet and claws are much larger than the lesser bulldog bats, and their claws are very sharp. The fur is short and repels water.

Geographic range: Greater bulldog bats are found in parts of Central and South America, and throughout many islands on the Caribbean.

Greater bulldog bat habitat: They live in lowland and moist habitats that are near a water source, including the seashore, lakes, river basins, and ponds.

Greater bulldog bat diet: They eat primarily fish. They also eat crab and insects, including winged ants, crickets, and scarab beetles.

Behavior and reproduction: Greater bulldog bats typically roost in caves near a water source and in tree hollows. They roost in colonies of up to several hundred individuals bats. Each colony may have a distinctive odor. They emerge at dusk to forage for food in groups of five to fifteen.

Greater bulldog bats use echolocation to detect the ripples along the water’s surface, which indicates a fish swimming. Groups of these bats zigzag low over the water and send out chirpy echolocation calls. The bats can track fish movement by predicting their speed and direction. Then they drag their sharp claws through the ripples and snatch the fish with their large, sharp claws. Once out of the water, the fish is carried to a perch, where the bat eats it. Greater bulldog bats may also capture insects and crustaceans on the surface of the water. Prey is either eaten in flight, stored in its cheeks, or carried to a roost to be eaten.

These bats have powerful wings. If they drop into the water while they are foraging they can use their wings like paddles. Once they have gained enough speed in the water the bat lifts itself up into flight.

Female greater bulldog bats generally have a single offspring each year. The breeding season may vary regionally. In the Northern Hemisphere, mating typically begin in November and the young are born in May and June.

Greater bulldog bats and people: The health of a population of greater bulldog bats may act as an indication of water pollution.

Conservation status: Greater bulldog bats are not listed as threatened.