Physical characteristics

The muzzle and elongate feet and legs of bulldog bats are their most distinctive features. The nose and muzzle are simple, but a projecting nose-pad, enlarged and swollen lips, pronounced cheek pouches, and folds of skin on the lower lip give these bats a bulldog-like appearance. The ears are separate, long, and narrow, with a lobed tragus. The tail emerges dor-sally from the tail membrane about one-third of its length from the body. The calcar, or heel extension, of these bats is long and bony. Both species have long legs with well-developed feet and claws, but the modification of the claws and feet into large, razor-sharp, and hydrodynamically efficient gaffing mechanisms in Noctilio leporinus is truly astounding.

Bulldog bats are fairly large, with short pelage ranging in color from bright orange to orange-brown and gray-brown. Fur color was previously thought to represent differences between sexes, with males being orange and females brown. It is now understood that color is quite variable within each species. A white line, which may or may not be distinct, runs

The greater bulldog bat (Noctilio leporinus) does not have a nose leaf. (Photo by © Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International. Reproduced by permission.)

A greater bulldog bat (Noctilio leporinus) searches for fish under the water's surface. (Photo by Frans Lanting/Minden Pictures. Reproduced by permission.)

The lesser bulldog bat (Noctilio albiventris) feeds mostly on insects.

(Photo by P. V. August/Mammal Images Library of the American Soci- A greater bulldog bat (Noctilio leporinus) in low search flight. (Photo by ety of Mammologists.) Stephen Dalton/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

The lesser bulldog bat (Noctilio albiventris) feeds mostly on insects.

(Photo by P. V. August/Mammal Images Library of the American Soci- A greater bulldog bat (Noctilio leporinus) in low search flight. (Photo by ety of Mammologists.) Stephen Dalton/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

down the center of the back from the shoulder region to the rump. Wing and tail membranes are brown.

Total body lengths range 2.2-5.1 in (57-132 mm), forearm lengths 2.1-3.6 in (54-92 mm), and weights range 0.6-7.8 oz (18-78 g). Males are significantly larger than females in both species.

Both species have well-developed teeth typical of most insectivorous bats. The dental formula is: I2/1 C1/1 P1/2 M3/3.

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