Sundevall’s Roundleaf Bat, Hipposideros caffer
Sundevall’s roundleaf bat (Hipposideros caffer), also known as Sundevall’s leaf-nosed bat, is highly similar to Noack’s roundleaf bat, although currently they are recognized as separate species. If classified together, it could be possible to name them under the same species, with many undiscovered cryptic species as subspecies of the two. Sundevall’s roundleaf bat can be found virtually throughout Africa south of the Sahara, including Yemen, Morocco, and areas of Saudi Arabia.
Sundevall’s roundleaf bat is medium in size, weighing an average 0.28 to 0.35 ounces. These bats can reach an average body length of up to 3.5 inches and can have a wingspan of up to eleven inches. They have long fur that can vary in color from gray to bright tawny-orange, with the underbelly typically appearing to be paler than the rest. The wings are usually brown in color.
Sundevall’s roundleaf bat has large, curved ears and a “u” shaped nose leaf, a patch of skin located on the muzzle. Behind the nose leaf is an extra serrated ridge of skin. Both males and females of this bat species have a pair of teats that are not functional. In some females, these can grow to be 1.6 inches long, and are thought to give young bats something to latch onto their mothers with.
Preferring savannah habitats, Sundevall’s roundleaf bat will not roost in the thick rainforests of Africa. However, they have been spotted around coastal and mopane forests, as well as Acacia shrublands and bushveld. These bats will roost in caves, tree hollows, and even manmade structures like attics or mines. In one cave in Gabon, a population of 500,000 bats was reported. There is a slight social structure within the Sundevall’s roundleaf bat populations, where a dominant male might monopolize certain females. These bats do not hibernate in the true sense of the word, but they may enter a state of deep sleep, or torpor, in cold seasons.
Sundevall’s roundleaf bat is a skilled flier although it is slow, and can even hover for short amounts of time. Typically, these bats will catch their food in the air, but they have been known to glean it off the ground. They use echolocation to detect their pray, which consists of mainly moths, although they may eat small amounts of flies, beetles, or other insects. When searching for food, these bats will emit a call that lasts approximately six milliseconds, trailed by a small frequency modulated down sweep. The frequency of the calls is usually around 140 kHz, but may vary due to location.
In winter, populations of Sundevall’s roundleaf bats located in the northern and southern areas of its range will breed. Although there is only one breeding season per year, populations located near the equator may be reproductively isolated from northern or southern populations. Typically, pregnancy will last up to four months, but in some groups, delayed implantation of the embryo can occur. This causes the young bat to be born as late as seven months after conception. Each female will give birth to one baby bat that is hairless and blind. These young bats are able to fly at one month of age and are weaned at three. The conservation status of Sundevall’s roundleaf bat is of “Least Concern”.
Image Caption: Sundevall’s Leaf-nosed Bat. Credit: Ursula Franke/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)