Ectophylla albawhite bat

Geographic Range

Endemic to the lowlands of Central America, including Eastern Honduras, Northern Nicaragua, Eastern Costa Rica, and Western Panama.


Found mainly in rainforests that have a population of Heliconia plant species.

Physical Description

This is a very small species of bat. The total body length ranges from 37-47mm. They have no external tail. They have a lustrous white coat covering most of their bodies. Sections of this coat are tinged with gray. They also have bright orange/yellow features (ears, face, nose, and sections of their legs and wings) and black wing membranes. The nose of this species is very pronouced and triangular. This is a characteristic of the Phyllostomids which are often referred to as leaf-nosed.


As with most phyllostomids, the litter size is rarely more than one. Reproduction is also timed so the young are not born during the rainy season.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual


This species of bat belongs to a group of bats classified as "tent making " bats. The bats cut the veins of large plant leaves, usually Heliconia sp., and form them into an upside-down V shape. They then diurnally roost under the leaves. This "tent" is made about 6 feet in the air horizontal to the ground. The bats use many different tents all of which are roughly the same size. Each individual tent houses groups as small as 1-2 or as large as 12. The tent is used to protect the bats from rain, the sun, and predators. The bats are so confident in their concealment within the tent that they will not take flight unless the main stem of the leaf is disturbed.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Ectophylla alba is a frugivorous species.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

No documented examples.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

No documented examples.

Conservation Status

There is currently no special status but the cutting of rainforests could locally effect populations.

Other Comments

This species has a dark pigmented covering on its skull which is assumed to reduce the amount of UV light absorption. Their white fur also appears a greenish color when the sun shines through their "leaf tents". This coloring effectively camouflages the bats when they are in their tents. Due to their small size, harsh habitat, and very effective camouflage this bat species is difficult to study.


Eric J. Ellis (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



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.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


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.


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.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


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


uses touch to communicate


Kunz, Thomas H. 1994. Bats: Volume 12, No 1., Spring. Bat Conservation International.

Timm, Robert M. 1982. Mammalian Species. Species account number 166: Ectophylla alba. The American Society of Mammalogists.

Nowak, Ronald M., and Paradiso, John L. 1983. Walker's Mammals of the World, 4th Edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press.