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Mouse-Tailed Bats: Rhinopomatidae

Hardwicke's Lesser Mouse-tailed Bat (rhinopoma Hardwickei): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Hardwicke's lesser mouse-tailed bats are also called long-tailed bats, referring to their long, thin mouse-like tail. The tail can be as long to the length of the head and body combined.

These bats are relatively smaller than other species in the family. They have a body length of about 2.5 inches (5.5 centimeters), and their forearms range in length from 2 to 2.5 inches (5.2 to 6.4 centimeters). They weigh about 0.4 to 0.5 ounces (11 to 14 grams).

The fur of lesser mouse-tailed bats is soft. It is generally a gray-brown color on the upper side of and a paler color of the same shade on its underside. These bats appear to be furless on their faces and backsides. These bats feature large ears that are connected by a band of skin across the forehead. The snout has a small, rounded noseleaf. Directly above the nostrils are slits that they can open and close.

Hardwicke's lesser mouse-tailed bats live in dry regions. To help them survive, they can close valves in their nostrils to keep from breathing in dust, and they can control their kidneys to reduce water loss. (© Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International. Reproduced by permission.)

Geographic range: Lesser mouse-tailed bats extend from northern Africa to southern Asia. They are found in Morocco, Senegal, Egypt, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, India, Socotra Island, and Pakistan.

Habitat: Lesser mouse-tailed bats typically live in extremely dry or arid regions, They are found in mostly treeless areas ranging from deserts to grasslands and dry woodland.

Diet: Lesser mouse-tailed bats feed on flying insects, such as moths and beetles. These bats build up a large fat reserve in their lower abdomen and can go without feeding for two months.

Behavior and reproduction: Lesser mouse-tailed bats have unique adaptations, changes in body structures and functions, for life in dry regions. They can close valves in the nostrils to keep from breathing in dust. They can also control their kidneys to reduce water loss. In extremely hot weather these bats move into a shelter.

Lesser mouse-tailed bats find their food using echolocation. Studies have found that when several of these bats forage for food together, each uses an echolocation call of a different sound frequency.

Lesser mouse-tailed bats roost in caves, rock clefts, wells, pyramids, palaces, and houses. They gather in both large and small colonies. Colonies can number in the thousands, or range from one to ten individuals. They often hang by their thumbs as well as feet. Studies have found that roosting sites are generally used for only one day, and then they will select another site.

Studies indicate that lesser mouse-tailed bats are polygamous (puh-LIH-guh-mus), having more than one mate. Female lesser mouse-tailed bats produce one offspring annually. They gestate, are pregnant, for a period of 90 to 100 days. In a field study of lesser mouse-tailed bats, birth occurred over ten days in mid-December. The young began flying at five to six weeks.

Lesser mouse-tailed bats and people: Lesser mouse-tailed bats eat insects that many humans consider pests. There are indications that these bats may be declining in population, due to human activities. Reasons for the population decline include clearing these bats' forest habitats, disturbing their roosting sites, and introducing animals into an area that are predators of these bats, animals that hunt them for food.

Conservation status: Lesser mouse-tailed bats are not currently in danger of extinction. There is some evidence that long-tailed bats are now rare or absent at many sites where formerly they were common. ∎



Fenton, Brock M. Bats. New York: Checkmark Press, 2001.

Fenton, Brock M. The Bat: Wings in the Night Sky. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 1998.

Richardson, Phil. Bats. London: Whittet Books, 1985.

Ruff, Sue, and Don E. Wilson. Bats. New York: Benchmark Books, 2001.

Schober, Wilfried, and Eckard Grimmberger. The Bats of Europe and North America. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 1997.


Schnitzler, Hans-Ulrich and Elisabeth K.V. Kalko. "Echolocation by Insect-Eating Bats." BioScience (July, 2001): 557–569.

Web sites:

"Bat Information." The Bat Conservation Trust. http://www.bats.org.uk/bat_info.htm (accessed on July 2, 2004).

Hester, L., and P. Myers. "Rhinopomatidae." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Rhinopomatidae.html (accessed on July 2, 2004).

Simmons, Nancy B. and Tenley Conway. "Rhinopomatoidea." Tree of Life Web Project. http://tolweb.org/tree?group=Rhinopomatoidea&contgroup=Microchiroptera (accessed on July 2, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsMouse-Tailed Bats: Rhinopomatidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Hardwicke's Lesser Mouse-tailed Bat (rhinopoma Hardwickei): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, MOUSE-TAILED BATS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS