OLD WORLD SUCKER-FOOTED BAT FACTS
Also known as the Madagascar sucker-footed bat, the sucker-footed bat family has only one known species. Bats in this family are small to medium in size, having a head and body length combined of 2.3 inches (5.7 centimeters), and a tail length of approximately 1.9 inches (4.8 centimeters). The tail extends beyond the tail membrane (layer of thin skin). The bat weighs about 0.3 ounces (8 grams).
Old World sucker-footed bat is named after the suction-like pads or disks on their wrists and ankles. These pads are horseshoe shaped. They are attached directly to the feet and ankles, without a stalk as in the disk-winged bats.
Old World sucker-footed bats have large ears, which are about 1.2 to 1.4 inches (3 to 3.5 centimeters) long. The ears do not have a tragus (TRAY-gus), which is a small flap of flesh in front of the opening of the ear. The upper lip extends beyond the lower lip. Their thumbs are small and have a vestigial (ves-TIJ-ee-al; not fully developed) claw.
These bats are occasionally called golden bats because of their fur color. Their moderately thick fur is brown to golden brown in color with some reddish shades.
This species has been found only in Madagascar. It has been observed primarily from areas that stretch the full length of the east coast, and one area on the west coast. There are fewer than twenty localities where this bat has been recorded.
OLD WORLD SUCKER-FOOTED BAT HABITAT
Old World sucker-footed bats are found primarily in the rainforests along eastern Madagascar.
An examination of one bat’s droppings found that moths were its main food source. It is not known what other prey (animals eaten for food) or other foods the bats may eat.
BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION
Little is known about the behavior and mating habits of these bats. Their suction disks allow them to cling onto smooth surfaces, yet they do not appear to hold the bat’s body as tightly to a vertical surface as those of the disk-winged bats. The bats probably use the pads to hold on to the smooth, hard stems and leaves of palms and other smooth surfaces.
They have been found roosting (resting or settling) in the unrolled leaf of a traveler’s palm. One bat was discovered over a small stream, another in a vanilla plantation, and one in a sparsely forested area over a path close to a stream. These bats have also been recorded flying over urban areas. They probably roost in a variety of palm species and other similar types of plants.
Like all bats, Old World sucker-footed bats are nocturnal, meaning that they are active at night. One bat was caught in a net about one hour after sunset.
Old World sucker-footed bats can maneuver (mah-NOO-ver) well in flight. They have been observed spending long periods of time hovering over freshly dug and planted paddy fields, as well as within forest clearings. It is assumed they were feeding in these areas.
These bats use echolocation (eck-oh-loh-KAY-shun) to capture their prey. Echolocation is the process for locating objects by emitting, or sending out, sounds, which are reflected back to the bat by objects in the sound’s path. Old World sucker-footed bats emit relatively long echolocation calls with complex frequency modulated (FM) calls.
No information is available about this species’ mating and breeding habits.
OLD WORLD SUCKER-FOOTED BATS AND PEOPLE
These bats are considered extremely rare and the IUCN defines the loss of forest due to human interference as the most likely threat to this species.
Old-World sucker footed bats are considered one of the world’s rarest species. The IUCN Red List categorizes these bats as Vulnerable, meaning they are facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.