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Free-Tailed Bats and Mastiff Bats: Molossidae

Naked Bat (cheiromeles Torquatus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Naked bats are the largest molossids, with a head and body length ranging from 4.5 to 5.8 inches (11.5 to 14.5 centimeters). They weigh from 3.2 to 5.7 ounces (96 to 170 grams). Also called naked bulldog bats, these bats are almost completely hairless. They have scattered short hairs and bits of longer hair around a scent gland on their neck. This haired gland produces a strong, foul odor.

These bats have loose, dark gray, brown, or black skin. A naked bat has bristles on its toes, which it uses for cleaning and grooming. Another distinguishing characteristic of the bat is the pocket of skin along its sides. These flaps of skin form a wing pouch that the bat The naked bat is the largest bat in its family. They are called "naked" bats because they have very little hair on their bodies. (© Simon D. Pollard/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.) folds its wings into when it rests. Ears are separate and their lips are smooth. Big toes have a flat nail instead of the typical claw.

Geographic range: Naked bats are found in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Borneo, Java, Sumatra, the Philippines, and surrounding islands.

Habitat: These bats live in tropical forests and several live on islands. They roost in caves, rock crevices, tree hollows, and holes in the ground.

Diet: Naked bats feed on insects, primarily termites and winged ants.

Behavior and reproduction: Naked bats are strong, fast fliers. They fly high above the forest canopy (the tops of trees) or above clearings to forage, or search, for food. When they fold their wings into their pouch, these bats can move about relatively easily on all four limbs.

This species of bat roosts in large colonies. Nearly a thousand individuals were observed in a hollow tree, and a colony of about 20,000 was observed in a cave in Borneo.

There are usually two offspring. The young are most likely left in the roost when the parents leave to forage for food in the evening.

Naked bats and people: In certain areas, most of the forest habitat of the naked bat has been destroyed by development, logging, and cultivation. People have hunted these bats for food and killed them because they mistakenly believed these bats were harming their crops.

Conservation status: The IUCN Red List categorizes these bats as Near Threatened, not currently threatened, but could become so. In specific areas, this species has significantly declined, and is protected by law. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsFree-Tailed Bats and Mastiff Bats: Molossidae - Physical Characteristics, Geographic Range, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Molossids And People, Conservation Status - DIET