Bats of KZN

(Source – Paul Buchel and The Bat Interest Group of Kwazulu Natal)

Fruit Bats

PTEROPODIDAE (Old World Fruit Bats) 

Identification
Two claws on each wing: one on the thumb and one on the second finger
Large eyes and smaller ears
Tragus absent
Dog-like face and snout
Tail usually absent: if present, very small with no tail membrane
Food
Fruits, nectar, pollen, leaves

Roosts
Trees, palm fronds or leaf tents, eaves of tall buildings, dense foliage, caves

Number of species worldwide: 173
Number of species in Southern Africa: 13

Common fruit bats in KZN
Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat – Epomophorus wahlbergi
Eygptian fruit bat – Rousettus aegyptiacus

Insectivorous Bats

There are seven families of insectivorous bats in South Africa. All of them are represented in KwaZulu Natal.

RHINOLOPHIDAE – Horseshoe Bats

Identification
Nose-leaf with horseshoe-shaped base and single point at top
Many nodules on nose-leaf
Large ears
Tragus absent
Tail present, variable size

Food
Moths, beetles, spiders

Roosts
Caves and mines, occasionally buildings, foliage, and tree hollows

Number of species worldwide: 69 (occurs in the Old World only)
Number of species in Southern Africa: 10

Common horseshoe bats in KZN
Geoffroy’s horseshoe bat – Rhinolophus clivosus
Bushveld horseshoe bat – Rhinolophus simulator
Darling’s horseshoe bat – Rhinolophus darlingi
VESPERTILIONIDAE – Vesper Bats

Identification
Tail fully enclosed in tail membrane
Plain nose and face
Tragus present

Food
Beetles, moths, mosquitoes, other insects

Roosts
Caves, mines, buildings, tree hollows, under loose bark, curled leaves, rock crevices
Number of species worldwide: 355 (Old and New World)
Number of species in Southern Africa: 29

Some vesper bats found in KZN
Banana bat – Neoromicia nana
Yellow-bellied house bat – Scotophilus
MOLOSSIDAE – Free-tailed Bats

Identification
Tail extends beyond end of tail membrane for 1/3 of its length
Large round ears
Tragus present
Small eyes
Often have wrinkled lips

Food
Moths, beetles, and other insects

Roosts
Rock crevices, bridges, buildings, occasionally
caves or tree hollows

Number of species worldwide: 86 (Old and New World)
Number of species in Southern Africa: 18

Common free-tailed bats in KZN
Angolan free-tailed bat – Mops condylurus
Little free-tailed bat – Chaerephon pumilus

EMBALLONURIDAE – Sheath-tailed or Tomb Bats

Identification
Tail protrudes from dorsal surface of tail membrane
Glandular sac present on forearm (well-developed in some adult males)
Plain nose and mouth
Large eyes
Flat, triangular-shaped head
Tragus present

Food
Moths, beetles, other small insects, occasionally butterflies

Roosts
On outside walls of buildings, tree trunks, rock crevices, sometimes caves

Number of species worldwide: 48 (Old and New World)
Number of species in Southern Africa: 3

Common bat in KZN
Mauritian tomb bat – Taphozous mauritianus
Egyptian tomb bat – taphozous perforatus (Had never been seen in South Africa before Wendy White took this photo in northern KZN in late April 2011)
HIPPOSIDERIDAE – Old World Leaf-nosed Bats

Identification
Rounded nose-leaf, sometimes with three-pronged protrusion on top resembling a trident
Large ears
Tragus absent
Tail present, variable size

Food
Moths, beetles, flying termites

Roosts
Cabes, mines, sometimes buildings, tree hollows and porcupine burrows

Number of species worldwide: 63 (occurs in the Old World only)
Number of species in Southern Africa: 4

Common bats in KZN
Sundevall’s leaf-nosed bat – Hipposideros caffer
Commerson’s leaf-nosed bat – Hipposideros commersonii
Short eared trident bat – Cloeotis percivali
Short eared trident bat – Cloeotis percivali
Sundevall’s leaf-nosed bat – Hipposideros caffer
NYCTERIDAE – Slit-faced Bats

Identification
Deep vertical slit in middle of face
Tail ending in T-shaped cartilage
Extremely large ears
Tiny eyes

Food
Spiders, scorpions, moths, frogs, fish, even small birds and bats

Roosts
Tree hollows, caves, road culverts, buildings, dense foliage, aardvark burrows
Number of species worldwide: 13 (occur in Old World only)
Number of species in Southern Africa: 5

Common slit-faced bats in KZN
Common slit-faced bat – Nycteris thebaica
MINIOPTERIDAE – Long-fingered Bats

Identification
Plain face with high forehead
Second phalanx of third finger elongated
Widespread, migratory species

Food
Moths, beetles, flies, and other insects

Roosts
Caves and mines, sometimes in huge numbers

Number of species worldwide:
Number of species in Southern Africa: 4

Long-fingered bats in KZN
Natal long-fingered bat – Miniopterus natalensis
Lesser long-fingered bat – Miniopterus fraterculus
Greater long-fingered bat – Miniopterus inflatus