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False Vampire Bats: Megadermatidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Megadermatids make echolocation (eck-oh-loh-KAY-shun) calls through the nose. Echolocation is a technique of sending out sounds and then using the reflection or echoes of the sound to detect objects. In bats these sounds are too high-pitched for humans to hear. Megadermatids use their large noseleaf to focus the sound outwards.

Megadermatids roost (settle or rest) in caves, rock crevices, buildings, and trees. Roosting habits vary from solitary to colonial. The Asian false vampire bats roost in caves, buildings, and hollow trees in small groups, although one particularly large colony of nearly 2,000 was reported in India. Eating a wide range of foods from insects to birds, these bats maneuver (mah-NOO-ver) well as they snatch their food.

False vampire bats commonly kill the prey (animals hunted for food) by biting the head and crushing the skull. False vampires share their prey with other members of the family group, consisting of a pair of adults and their non-breeding young. The Australian false vampire bat drops on small mammals from above, and envelops them with its wings before biting the head and neck. They carry their prey to a high point or back to the roost.

Heart-nosed bats hang upside down on a low perch while they scan the area for their meals. This bat eats beetles, centipedes, scorpions, and small bats. From its perch, typically 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters) above ground, this bat twists its body 180°, using its eyes and ears to search for prey. When it spots a meal, the bat swoops down and snatches the prey, carrying it back to its perch. There, the bat removes the legs and wings before eating the body.

Some megadermatids, such as the yellow-winged bats, appear to be monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus), meaning that the male and female pair up, which is unusual in bats and mammals. Heart-nosed bats mate in monogamous pairs for the breeding season. They make an effort to keep the same mate during the following breeding seasons. Mated pairs have a breeding site that the male defends. Prior to foraging for their food in the evening, the male of the heart-nosed and false vampire bats sing from perches.

Megadermatids give birth to a single offspring during each breeding period. In yellow-winged bats, following a gestation (pregnancy) of about three months, most births of the single offspring occur in April. False vampire bats also have a gestation period of about three months, and give birth at the beginning of the rainy season. Sometimes, an older member of the family may remain to sit with the young while the adults hunt.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsFalse Vampire Bats: Megadermatidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Megadermatids And People, Australian False Vampire Bat (macroderma Gigas): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, CONSERVATION STATUS