Eumops perotiswestern bonneted bat

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Geographic Range

The distribution of the western mastiff bat is patchy. It can be found from the coast of the southwestern United States into central Mexico and southeast to Cuba. The northern limit of its range is the southern half of California. In the United States it extends southeast into western Texas through southern Nevada and southwestern Arizona. The southern limit of its range is in Argentina. This species is non-migratory (Hall, 1981, Allen, 1987, Cockrum, 1960).

Habitat

Suitable habitat for the western mastiff bat consists of extensive open areas with potential roost locations having vertical faces to drop off from and take flight, such as crevices in rock outcropings and cliff faces, tunnels and tall buildings. This species inhabits various types of open, semi-arid to arid habitats. These include coastal and desert scrublands, annual and perennial grasslands, conifer and deciduous woodlands, as well as palm oases (Ahlborn, 2000; Cockrum, 1960; Allen, 1987).

  • Range elevation
    5 to 300 m
    16.40 to 984.25 ft

Physical Description

Eumops perotis is easily identified by large ears united across the top of its skull and projecting about 10 mm beyond its snout. It is the largest molossid in North America. Characteristic to the family Molossidae, its wings are distinctively long but rather narrow. Their flight membranes are tough and leathery. This is a free-tailed bat whith relatively large feet. Its pelage is short, velvety, and whitish at the roots. Coloration is dark to greyish brown dorsally and more pale ventrally. The dental formula is I 1/2, C 1/1, P 2/2, M 3/3 X 2 = 30. Both sexes of the western mastiff bat possess a peculiar dermal gland on the throat which looks like a pouch and produces an odoriferous secretion, athough this gland is much more developed in the males (Ahlborn, 2000; Texas Tech, 1997; Allen, 1987).

  • Average mass
    57 g
    2.01 oz
  • Average length
    81 mm
    3.19 in
  • Range wingspan
    0.53 to 0.60 m
    1.74 to 1.97 ft
  • Average wingspan
    0.56 m
    1.84 ft

Reproduction

Males attract females with secretions from their enlarged dermal gland during the mating season.

Males and females of this species remain together throughout the year, including the period when young are produced. Mating occurs in early spring when the dermal gland of adult males is most functional and the testes enlarge and descend. Normally only one young is produced per pregnancy, with twins being very rare. Eumops perotis is a eutherian with a gestation period of approximately 80 to 90 days. The offspring are dull black in color at birth and are naked, except for tactile hairs on the feet and face. The period of parturition usually extends from June into July, varying more than for any other bat in the United States. A nursery colony of these bats may contain young ranging from newborn individuals to ones already several weeks old. Nursery roosts are located in tight rock crevices or holes in buildings at least 90 cm deep and 5 cm wide (Texas Tech, 1997; Ahlborn, 2000).

  • Breeding season
    March to July
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Range gestation period
    80 to 90 days
  • Range weaning age
    1 to 2 months

Males remain with females during the period when young are produced but it is uncertain what degree of assistance in care they actually provide.

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Behavior

This species is non-migratory and may move among alternate

daytime roosts. Some roost sites are occupied throughout the year although different seasons are usually spent at different sites. Roost entrances are typically horizontally oriented with moderately large openings and face downward so that they can be entered from below. Western mastiff bats seeks out roosts below which there is an unobstructed drop of several meters allowing for sufficient momentum to become airborne to be achieved when they take off. Eumops perotis exhibits yearlong nocturnal activity and generally goes into daily torpor from December through February, maintaining foraging activity at night except when temperatures drop below 5 degrees C.

Western mastiff bats are capable of fast and prolonged flight but can not get airborne from the ground. They will scramble up a post or tree in order to achieve a minimum height of some 5 m necessary for launching into flight. Their colonies are small, usually numbering fewer than 100 members, and adult males can be found in maternity colonies (Cockrum, 1960; Texas Tech, 1997; Ahlborn, 2000).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Western mastiff bats feed primarily on insects which they catch in flight. These bats rarely utilize night roosts and feed at night, with foraging ranges exceeding 24 km from roost sites, and a long foraging period of 6 to 7 hours. Prey includes relatively small, low-flying, and weak-flying insects. They usually feed from ground to tree-level but may soar to heights of some 60 m in rugged terrain. It is interesting to note that flightless insects, including ants and crickets, comprise part of their diet even though these bats are unable to take off from the ground, requiring that the prey be snatched up as the bat flies by. These prey items are likely to be taken from surfaces such as canyon walls (Cockrum 1960; Texas Tech, 1997; Ahlborn, 2000).

Some insect prey include: moths, crickets, grasshoppers, bees, dragonflies, leafbugs, beetles, true bugs, ants and wasps.

  • Animal Foods
  • insects

Ecosystem Roles

Eumops perotis is an insectivore feeding primarily on flying insects.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Western mastiff bats feed on various insects and may play a role in controlling their populations, hence decreasing losses to agricultural products upon which these insects feed.

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

This species sometimes roosts in high buildings or tunnels where it can be an unsightly nuisance.

Conservation Status

Apparently, litte data is available for the current status of this bat species. Bat Conservation International lists Eumops perotis on its Threatened and Endangered Bats List due to the the fact that it uses only select drinking sites and is severely limited by the availability of drinking water. Because its wing structure is adapted for fast and straight-line flight, it is unable to drink from water sources less than 30 m long. As a consequence, western mastiff bats are no longer found in many previously occupied areas and populations may be in decline (Acker, 2001).

Temperate North American bats are now threatened by a fungal disease called “white-nose syndrome.” This disease has devastated eastern North American bat populations at hibernation sites since 2007. The fungus, Geomyces destructans, grows best in cold, humid conditions that are typical of many bat hibernacula. The fungus grows on, and in some cases invades, the bodies of hibernating bats and seems to result in disturbance from hibernation, causing a debilitating loss of important metabolic resources and mass deaths. Mortality rates at some hibernation sites have been as high as 90%. While there are currently no reports of Eumops perotis mortalities as a result of white-nose syndrome, the disease continues to expand its range in North America. (Cryan, 2010; National Park Service, Wildlife Health Center, 2010)

Contributors

Lukasz Chebes (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Kate Teeter (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chaparral

Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

colonial

used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

polygynous

having more than one female as a mate at one time

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

suburban

living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

urban

living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Acker, E, 2001. "Threatened and Endangered Bats" (On-line). Accessed 10/7/2001 at http://www.batcon.org.

Ahlborn, G, 2000. "California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System" (On-line). Accessed 10/8/2001 at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/whdab/cwhr/M042.html.

Allen, T. B, 1987. Family Molossidae. Pp. 72 in Wild Animals of North America. Washington, D. C: The National Geographic Society.

Cockrum, E. L., 1960. Distribution, habitat and habits of the mastiff bat, *Eumops perotis*, in North America. Arizona Academy of Sciences: 79-84.

Cryan, P. 2010. "White-nose syndrome threatens the survival of hibernating bats in North America" (On-line). U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center. Accessed September 16, 2010 at http://www.fort.usgs.gov/WNS/.

Hall, E. R., 1981. The Mammals of North America. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc..

National Park Service, Wildlife Health Center, 2010. "White-nose syndrome" (On-line). National Park Service, Wildlife Health. Accessed September 16, 2010 at http://www.nature.nps.gov/biology/wildlifehealth/White_Nose_Syndrome.cfm.