Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 13:30 EDT

Ghost-faced Bat, Mormoops megalophylla

The ghost-faced bat (Mormoops megalophylla) is one of two living species within its genus. It has a large range that includes Peru, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia. In the United States, it can be found in Texas, and there have been records of it appearing in California and Arizona. It prefers a habitat within warm and humid environments.

The ghost-faced bat is small, and is typically reddish-brown or dark brown in color. As the bat ages, this red becomes more noticeable. Every year, between the months of June and September, these bats will molt their fur. Because the nose is not developed, these bats have a face that appears to be smashed. Its ears are large and seem to join at the forehead, and coupled with the thick skin on the bats face, it has a very strange appearance.

The ghost-faced bat will gather in large colonies, although they do not prefer to roost together, and instead will roost about 5.9 inches away from other bats. These roosts are usually within caves, tunnels, or mines. When foraging, these bats will form large clusters that split once a feeding ground has been located. Large moths are the preferred food for this bat, and they can be seen flying over bodies of stagnant water searching for the moths.

The typical birthing season for the ghost-faced bat occurs between the months of March and June, when the average birth consists of only one pup.  Because of their sensitivity to the cold, nursing mothers and their young will reside farther back in the roosts in order to retain body heat.

This bat is unique in that it keeps its body temperature a few degrees higher than average, but this leads them to be sensitive to cold temperatures. They cannot survive temperatures less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours. Because of its tendency to roost in large colonies, it is susceptible to disease and parasites, which are reasons known to wipe out entire colonies. The ghost-faced bat appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern”.

Image Caption: Mormoops megalophylla. Credit: Alex Borisenko, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Ghost-faced Bat Mormoops megalophylla