Large slitfaced bat

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Nycteris grandis

TAXONOMY

Nycteris grandis Peters, 1865, Guinea.

OTHER COMMON NAMES None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The largest of slit-faced bats: forearms 2.2-2.6 in (5.7-6.6 cm); weight 0.8-1.2 oz (23-36 g). Long, fine fur is gray to red.

DISTRIBUTION

Occur from Sierra Leone in the west to Lake Victoria in the east. There are two isolated populations, one on the coast in Tanzania, the other from Zambia south into Zimbabwe along the Zambezi River.

HABITAT

Most often found in rainforest, but outlying populations occur in areas of savanna woodlands.

BEHAVIOR

Roost in hollows in trees, caves, and mines, or those in artificial structures such as buildings and unused military bunkers. Roosting individuals, other than females and their dependent young, are not in physical contact with one another. Along the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe, they use the same day roosts year after year, including hollows in acacia trees as well as those in buildings and in military bunkers; the roosts provide shelter

from the extreme heat of the day. Along the Zambezi, they use feeding roosts, sites that offer protection from above. Typically, feeding roosts are under thatched roofs, on porches, and in rooms that they enter through open doors or windows. Some day roosts also serve as feeding roosts.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

May hang from perches and wait for passing prey, or fly in search of food. In either case, they depend upon the sounds of prey to locate their targets and usually take prey from surfaces. Along the Zambezi River, they feed heavily on vertebrates, usually frogs (representing seven species), but occasionally on birds and fish. They also eat other species of bats, including Egyptian slit-faced bats. Large slit-faced bats also eat large arthropods, including sun spiders, moths, and beetles. Prey is killed with a bite to the head, and inedible parts dropped below feeding roosts. When they eat frogs, they usually discard one foot bitten off at the ankle, the other leg bitten off at the knee.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Females bear a single young each year. Probably promiscuous.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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