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American Leaf-Nosed Bats: Phyllostomidae - Physical Characteristics

species head noseleaf family

American leaf-nosed bats, also called New World leaf-nosed bats, are made up of diverse species. They range from small to large, with a combined head and body length of 1.6 to 5.3 inches (4 to 13.5 centimeters). This family includes the largest species of bat in the Western Hemisphere, the spectral vampire bat. These bats have a wingspan of about 3 feet (1 meter).

Some species have visible tails that are as long as 2.2 inches (5.5 centimeters), and others have no tail. These bats have noseleafs, meaning fleshy protrusions on the nose. Some of these species have noseleafs that are almost as long as the head, such as the sword-nosed bat. In most species, the noseleaf is a relatively simple structure shaped like a spear. Many species have bumps, warts, and other protrusions on the head near the noseleaf or on the chin.

The size and shape of these bats' heads vary widely and reflect their diverse feeding habits. Fruit-eating bats, for example, may have a medium-sized noseleaf, flat faces, and wide teeth to crush fruit. Bats in this family that lap up nectar (sweet liquid produced by plants) have a small noseleaf, long tongue, and small teeth. Species in this family that eat meat are generally large and have sharp teeth.

Fur color of American leaf-nosed bats is generally brown or gray, with the exception of one species, the white bat. Some species have color patterns that include stripes on the head or back, or white tufts of fur on the shoulders.

American Leaf-Nosed Bats: Phyllostomidae - Behavior And Reproduction [next]

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