Desert Long-eared Bat, Otonycteris hemprichii

The desert long-eared bat (Otonycteris hemprichii) is a vesper bat with no subspecies. Its ranges extends from the desert areas of northern Niger and Morocco through Egypt, from the Arabian Peninsula to Kazakhstan, with a far eastern range of north-west India. It prefers a habitat with dry and barren areas with little vegetation, as well as old buildings. The IUCN has listed the desert long-eared bat as of “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

The desert long-eared bat is small, reaching an average body length between 2.8 inches and 3.1 inches, with a tail that can be up to 2.7 inches in length. Two individuals were reported to weigh between .6 and .7 ounces. The underbelly is typically cream or white in color, while the rest of the fur is colored dark brown to light tan. The upright ears can be up to 1.5 inches in length and are connected by a thin piece of skin. The flight patterns of this bat are slow and loose.

Female members of the desert long-eared bat species will form breeding colonies, and groups have been found numbering between three and fifteen individuals. Seven pregnant individuals were found as well, most carrying two embryos, and three females with two embryos were found in an abandoned shack in Jordan.

Because of the floppy flight pattern and the body mass of the desert long-eared bat, it is thought that the bat is carnivorous. One study conducted in Kyrgyzstan found that the main diet of the bats found there consisted of arachnids like scorpions and spiders, and orthopterans like grasshoppers and crickets. It has been found that up to 70 percent of bat dung studied contained scorpion remains, including the highly poisonous Palestine yellow scorpion. When hunting scorpions, this bat will listen for the walking sounds of the scorpion, snatch it up, bite its head off, and often suffers sting wounds. However, the bats seem to have immunity to the scorpion venom. It will hunt for its food by flying low to the ground and emitting echolocation calls.

Image Caption: Otonycteris hemprichii. Credit: Charlotte Roemer/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)