Natalus stramineusMexican funnel-eared bat

Last updated:

Geographic Range

Mexican funnel-eared bats, Natalus stamineus, are confined to the Neotropics. They are distributed from Sonora and Nuevo Leon, Mexico, through Central America to Eastern Brazil. They can be found on the Yucatan Peninsula. Their distribution is patchy from Honduras to Panama. The species has also been seen in the Lesser Antilles, Hispaniola, and Jamaica. (Reid, 1997)

Habitat

Mexican funnel-eared bats are generally found in dry and semi-deciduous forest and secondary growth forests, and are occasionaly found in evergreen forest. They can be found at elevations up to 2,400 m, but are usually found around 300 m. They roost in moist caves. (Reid, 1997)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 2400 m
    0.00 to 7874.02 ft

Physical Description

Natalus stamineus is a very small, delicate, long-winged bat, ranging in weight from 3 to 5 g. Head and body length of Mexican funnel-eared bats is 38 to 46 mm; the tail length is from 47 to 52 mm; the length of hind foot is 8 to 9 mm; the length of the ear is 14 to 16 mm; the length of forearm is 36 to 39 mm. The sexes are similar in size. (Eisenberg and Redford, 1999; Eisenberg, 1989; Emmons, 1990; Reid, 1997; Silva , 1979)

The upper parts of this species are pale orange-brown or yellowish, with their under parts being yellow. The funnel-shaped ears are broad and cream colored, with black edges. The ears are angled forward. The species possesses very small eyes. Their faces are triangular, with pale pink skin and a mustache over the sides of their mouth. (Eisenberg and Redford, 1999; Eisenberg, 1989; Reid, 1997; Silva , 1979)

Adult male Mexican funnel-eared bats have a gland-like structure in the center of their foreheads known as the natalid organ. This gland is thought to be found only in the Natalidae, but there is not much known about its function. (Eisenberg and Redford, 1999; Eisenberg, 1989; Emmons, 1990; Reid, 1997; Silva , 1979)

The tail is long and completely enclosed in the interfemoral membrane. The tail is longer than the head and body length. This characteristic is unique to N. stramineus. The membrane is pale brown in color, with the edge fringed with short hair. The legs, tail, and arm bones are pink, contrasting with the brown membrane. The thumb is short and is almost enveloped in the antebrachial membrane, and the third phalanx of the third finger remains cartilaginous even in the adult. The wings are long and narrow. (Eisenberg and Redford, 1999; Eisenberg, 1989; Reid, 1997; Silva , 1979)

The dental formula is 2/3 1/1 3/3 3/3=38. (Eisenberg and Redford, 1999; Eisenberg, 1989; Reid, 1997; Silva , 1979)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    3 to 5 g
    0.11 to 0.18 oz
  • Range length
    38 to 46 mm
    1.50 to 1.81 in

Reproduction

Little is known about mating systems in this family. (Reid, 1997)

In El Salvador and Mexico, N. stramineus is reported to breed during the dry season. In Mexico and Central America, pregnant females have been found from January through July, and gestation is thought to last 8 to 10 months. Females are thought to be monoestrus, and to have slow development of the fetus. A single offspring is produced annually, weighing almost half of the adult mass, or about 2.1 g. (Nowak, 1999)

During the breeding season, the sexes apparently segregate, so that males and females roost separately. (Nowak, 1999; Reid, 1997)

  • Breeding interval
    These bats apparently breed annually.
  • Breeding season
    The exact time of breeding has not been reported, but young are born at the end of the dry season.
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Range gestation period
    8 to 10 months

Information on parental care of this species is not available. However, in other similar bats, females care for the young in the maternity roost, providing them with milk and grooming. Mothers are able to locate their own young among the many little bats present. Since males roost separately from females during rearing of the offspring, it is certain that males do not play a role in parental care. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Information on the longevity of this species is not available. However, in general, microchiroptera are long-lived animals. Some species of similar small size are known to live as many as 20 years. (Nowak, 1999)

Behavior

This species generally roosts in deep, moist caves. These bats are typically found in groups of up to 300 bats in one colony. While roosting in the caves, the individuals are spaced out widely in the dark caverns. Most flight occurs at understory level, with great speed and agility in dipping, twisting, and dodging the vegetation. These bats are most active within 2 hours after sunset. As the evening progresses, the bats may use nighttime refugia which differ from their normal daily roosting location. Northern populations will sometimes migrate, causing colony size to vary considerably. (Reid, 1997)

Home Range

The home range size for these animals has not been reported.

Communication and Perception

These bats find their prey through echolocation. The means of communication used with conspecifics has not been detailed in the literature, however, it is likely that N. stamineus is like other small microchiroptera with regard to communication. Most bats use vocal signals when communicating with one another. Some tactile communication occurs in the roost, especially between mothers and their offspring. Scent cues are probably used, as evidenced by the ability of a mother to distinguish her offspring from amid the hundreds of young bats in a maternity roost. (Eisenberg, 1989; Nowak, 1999)

Food Habits

Groups of Mexican funnel-eared bats leave the roost approximately 30 minutes after sunset to feed on small, flying insects. They find these insects by using high frequency ultra sounds up to 170 kHZ. (Reid, 1997)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects

Predation

No information on predation on this species was found. Because these animals fly and don't land in places easily accessible to many predators, it is likely that they are not a significant food source for predator populations. Some owls might take these bats in flight. Other predators would have to either find them in their roost, or catch them going into or coming out of the roost.

Ecosystem Roles

Mexican funnel-eared bats feed on large quantities of insects, undoubtedly affecting insect populations. (Reid, 1997)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Mexican funnel-eared bats feed on large quantites of insects that may be crop pests or carry human disease. (Reid, 1997)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

It is unlikely that these animals have a negative affect on human economies.

Conservation Status

Mexican funnel-eared bats are not listed by IUCN or CITES. (Reid, 1997)

Contributors

Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Tom Siwarski (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

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

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

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

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.

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

echolocation

The process by which an animal locates itself with respect to other animals and objects by emitting sound waves and sensing the pattern of the reflected sound waves.

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.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

migratory

makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds

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

rainforest

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.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

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

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

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

References

Eisenberg, J. 1989. Mammals of the Neotropics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Eisenberg, J., K. Redford. 1999. Mammals of the Neotropics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Emmons, L. 1990. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Reid, F. 1997. A Feild Guide to the Mammals of Central America & Southeast Mexico. New York: Oxford University Press.

Silva , G. 1979. Los Murcielagos de Cuba. Cuba: Editorial Academia.