Proboscis Bat, Rhynchonycteris naso

The proboscis bat (Rhynchonycteris naso) is native to Central and South America, and it is the only species in its genus. Its other common names include the river bat, the sharp-nosed bat, and the Brazilian long-nosed bat, and in Spanish, it is known as murciélago narizón. Its range extends from southern Mexico to Peru, and it occurs in Brazil, Bolivia, and Trinidad.

The proboscis bat prefers a habitat within low lands in southwestern Mexico, half of South America, and throughout Central America. From Ecuador, south into Bolivia and Brazil, its range is limited to areas east of the Andes Mountains. In these areas, it can be found in pastures, swamps, riparian forests, and areas with abundant water sources. It resides at altitudes of up to 1,000 feet.

Reaching an average body length of two inches and a weight of only .14 ounces, the proboscis bat is considered a small bat species. Its tail is only .6 inches long. The soft fur is typically brown-grey in color, and bares two white stripes down the back. The purpose for these stripes is unknown, but it is thought that they create camouflage or are used for reproduction purposes. The forearms and ears bare grey tufts. The coloring of this bat’s fur makes it hard to see during the daytime and nighttime.

The proboscis bat prefers to roost in groups of between five and ten individuals, although these groups can hold up to forty bats. It is nocturnal, a trait typical to bat species. However, its sleeping habits differ from those of other bats. These bats will line up in a row, nose to tail, when resting and sleeping during the day. Typically, these bats will forage for food in one area close to the roost, usually an area with abundant water. Using echolocation, they will feed on a diet comprised of insects.

The proboscis bat is able to breed year round, and will form harem groups when mating. One pup is typically born, and after two through four months, the weaning process is complete and the father and the mother will separate. Although they do not often fall prey to any creature, they can be hunted by the Argiope savignyi, a large spider.

The proboscis bat is known to eat insects that pollinate both helpful and harmful plants, so to humans it is both a pest and a benefit. It appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern”.

Image Caption: Group of Rhynchonycteris naso resting under a bungalow roof of La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica. Credit: Sarefo/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)