3 minute read

Slit-Faced Bats: Nycteridae

Egyptian Slit-faced Bat (nycteris Thebaica): Species Account

Physical characteristics: A distinctive feature of the Egyptian slitfaced bat is its long ears. The bat has long, fine fur that is gray to red. Its underparts are lighter in color. These bats are also called common slit-faced bats. They are medium-size bats, with an adult weighing about 0.2 to 0.4 ounces (7 to 12 grams)—about the weight of five pennies.

Geographic range: Egyptian slit-faced bats are found in Africa.

Habitat: These bats live in the open savanna woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa, in the dry or arid (extremely dry) areas of Africa. These bats can live in a wide range of habitats, with roosts including caves, under mines, buildings, and tree hollows.

When the female Egyptian slit-faced bat leaves the roost at night to hunt, she takes her young with her and then sets them in another area while she hunts. (Brock Fenton. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Egyptian slit-faced bats typically diet on arthropods, such as spiders, crickets, and scorpions, as well as insects, such as moths and beetles.

Behavior and reproduction: When foraging for food, Egyptian slit-faced bats pick their prey off the ground and vegetation surfaces, such as leaves or branches, as well as while flying. They can fly slowly and maneuver well, which allows them to hunt close to the ground and in dense vegetation.

These bats use echolocation and simply listening to detect their prey. Their large ears enable the bats to pick up sounds like the scuffling of some insects or the beating of wings. The purpose of the bird-like chirps they make while searching for their prey at night is unknown.

The roosts of Egyptian-slit faced bats include caves, areas under roads, mines, hollow trees, and roofs. They can be seen hanging from veranda (a structure like a porch) rooftops in temporary night roosts as they rest from their foraging. Observations have spotted colonies ranging in size from several and several hundred individuals.

Females produce a single offspring each year after gestating (being pregnant) for about 150 days. When the female leaves the roost at night to hunt, she takes her young with her and then sets them in another area while she hunts. Both sexes reach reproductive maturity at about their second year of life.

Egyptian-slit faced bats and people: There is no known significant relationship with people.

Conservation status: The IUCN does not consider Egyptian slitfaced bats to be threatened. ∎



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

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

Nowak, Ronald M. "Slit-faced Bats, or Hollow-faced Bats." Walker's Mammals of the World 5.1 Online. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/chiroptera/chiroptera.nycteridae.nycteris.html (accessed on July 4, 2004).

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.

Kerner, Sarah. "In the Bat Cave." Boys' Life (June 2003): 18.

Web sites:

Jacob, Davids. "Bats of the Western Cape." Cape Bat Action Team (Cape Bat). http://www.museums.org.za/sam/resources/mammal/bats.htm (accessed on July 4, 2004).

French, Barbara. "Where the Bats Are Part II: Other Animals' Shelters." Bat Conservation International, Inc. http://www.batcon.org/batsmag/v17n3-5.html (accessed on July 4, 2004).

Myers, Phil, and Bret Weinstein. "Family Nycteridae (slit-faced bats)." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Nycteridae.html (accessed on July 4, 2004).

Taylor, Peter. "Bats: Nature's Agricultural Allies" Science in Africa. http://www.scienceinafrica.co.za/2003/may/bats.htm (accessed on July 4, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsSlit-Faced Bats: Nycteridae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Egyptian Slit-faced Bat (nycteris Thebaica): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, From the Greeks, SLIT-FACED BATS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS