Lessercrested mastiff bat

Chaerephon pumila

TAXONOMY

Chaerephon pumila (Cretzschmar, 1830), Massawa, Eritrea.

OTHER COMMON NAMES English: Crested 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). It has long ears and very long narrow wings. Males develop a head crest of hair during the mating season.

DISTRIBUTION

Throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Yemen and south to South Africa. Also in Madagascar.

HABITAT

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

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. It is reported to mate in year-round harems of three to 21 females attended by a single adult male, with young females recruited into their natal groups.

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

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

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. ♦

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