Giant mastiff bat

Otomops martiensseni TAXONOMY

Otomops martiensseni (Matschie, 1897), Magrotto Plantation, Tanga, Tanzania.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Big-eared free-tailed bat.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Forearms ranging in length 2.5-2.9 in (6.2-7.2 cm); weighing 1.0-1.3 oz (31-39 g). A good-sized bat with long ears and very long narrow wings.

DISTRIBUTION

Widely distributed in eastern Africa, including Central African Republic, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Natal. Also reported from Madagascar, Ghana, and Yemen.

HABITAT

Present from sea level to over 6,560 ft (2,000 m), from semiarid to humid montane forest, and in urban habitats.

H Tadarida australis H Tadarida brasiliensis H Otomops martiensseni

BEHAVIOR

Roosts in caves, tree hollows, and buildings. Most known colonies consist of up to a few tens of individuals, but colonies of hundreds have been reported from lava tubes in Kenya. In buildings in South Africa small groups of females and young roost with single adult males suggesting a harem mating system.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Forage high above the canopy with very rapid flight and using low-frequency echolocation calls. Known to eat moths, beetles, and grasshoppers.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Reproductive schedule may vary geographically; in Kenya, they mate in August with a single young born in December-January. Thought to be polygynous.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed by the IUCN as Vulnerable due to documented and projected population declines and disturbance and destruction of known roost sites.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Guano is mined for fertilizer from formerly large cave roost sites in Kenya. May consume insects that are agricultural pests. ♦

OTHER COMMON NAMES

None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Forearms ranging in length 2.4-2.5 in (5.9-6.3 cm); weighing 1.1-1.5 oz (33-44 g). This bat has dark fur and two white ventral to lateral stripes.

DISTRIBUTION

Endemic to Australia. Found throughout southern Australia, approximately south of the tropic of Capricorn, but not in Tasmania.

HABITAT

Found in forest, scrub, grassland, and urban habitats.

BEHAVIOR

Roost in tree cavities alone or in groups of up to a few tens of individuals. Strong hind legs and retractable tail membrane allow them to scurry on the ground with surprising agility.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Forages above the canopy mostly on moths, true bugs, and grasshoppers. Many of its prey are agricultural pests.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Mate in August, with the birth of a single young in December-January, young wean in May. Mating system is not known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed by the IUCN as Lower Risk/Near Threatened.

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