Nyctiellus lepidusGervais's funnel-eared bat

Geographic Range

Nyctiellus lepidus is found in Cuba and the Bahamas. (Wilson and Reeder, 1993)


Gervais's funnel-eared bats live in forested tropical lowlands and foothills. They typically roost in large colonies in warm, humid mines or deep caves. (Handley, 1976; Vaughan, et al., 2000; Watkins, et al., 1972)

  • Other Habitat Features
  • caves

Physical Description

Nyctiellus lepidus individuals are small and delicate with broad wings, long tails, and a large interfemoral membrane. They also have large, forward pointing 'funnel'-shaped ears and a long, plain nose. The inner side of the ear is convex and reaches almost to the eyes. They have dark yellow to brown fur. Funnel-eared bats have inner upper incisors that are pointed inward and small lower incisors. These aid in drawing insects into the mouth. Males have a subcutaneous 'natalid' organ on their forehead. The function of the organ is poorly known but it is rich in sensory cells. It may have a glandular function. They weigh 5 to 10 grams. Members of the family Natalidae range in size from 35 to 55 mm in body length, 27 to 41 mm in forearm length, and 50 to 60 mm in tail length. (Crichton and Krutzsh, 2000; Dobson, 1966; Nowak, 1991)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    5 to 10 g
    0.18 to 0.35 oz


The mating system of N. lepidus is not known. Populations of some species of natalid bats segregate by sex during the breeding season, though sex segregation during the breeding season in N. lepidus is incomplete. (Nowak, 1991)

Little is known about the reproduction of N. lepidus. They are thought to be monoestrous, with the breeding season occurring in December and January. They have one large young at a time after an 8 to 10 month gestation period. There seems to be an extended embryonic development and the young are relatively large when born, weighing almost 50% of the mother's weight at birth. (Crichton and Krutzsh, 2000; Hayssen, et al., 1993)

  • Breeding interval
    Nyctiellus lepidus breeds once a year.
  • Breeding season
    Gervais's funnel-eared bats breed in December and January.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    8 to 10 months

Parental care in N. lepidus has not been described. Young funnel-eared bats are nursed and cared for by their mother until they reach independence. The growth of young bats is often relatively fast.


The lifespan of N. lepidus is not known.


Gervais's funnel-eared bats are nocturnal. They emerge from roosts in the evening to forage for insects. They roost in small to large colonies, which may be sexually segregated while young are developing into maternity roosts and male roosts. Their flight is slow and moth-like. (Nowak, 1991)

Communication and Perception

Communication in N. lepidus has not been described but, like most mammals, funnel-eared bats use their senses of smell, sight, touch, and hearing in communicating with conspecifics. They perceive their environment through vision, chemical cues, touch, and hearing. They use echolocation to locate and capture prey.

Food Habits

Nyctiellus lepidus individuals are insectivores. They show remarkable maneuverability to glean small insects. They are very skillful at flying through small openings of shrubs looking for insects, primarily using echolocation to find their prey. (Altringham, 1996)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects


Snakes and birds of prey are the primary predators of N. lepidus. (Nowak, 1991)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Nyctiellus lepidus impacts populations of insects in the ecosystems in which they live. Large colonies help to create guano communities in roost caves.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Nyctiellus lepidus individuals are insectivores, they help to control insect populations. (Hall, 1981)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of N. lepidus on humans.

Conservation Status

Other Comments

The family Natalidae is considered closely related to the families Furipteridae and Thyropteridae. (Altringham, 1996; Vaughan, et al., 2000)


Jacki Thompson (author), Michigan State University, Barbara Lundrigan (editor), Michigan State University.



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

World Map


uses sound to communicate

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.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


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.


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.


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.


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.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


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


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.


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).


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.


active during the night

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


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


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


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


uses sight to communicate


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


2003. "International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources" (On-line ). IUCN Redlist. Accessed 04/10/03 at

Altringham, J. 1996. Bats: Biology and Behavior. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Crichton, E., P. Krutzsh. 2000. Reproductive Biology of Bats. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Dobson, G. 1966. Catalogue of the Chiroptera. New York, NY: Wheldon and Wesley, Ltd.

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

Handley, C. 1976. Mammals of the Smithsonian Venezuelan Project. Science Bulletin, Biological Services, 20 (5): 1-89.

Hayssen, V., A. Van Tienhoven, A. Van Tienhoven. 1993. Asdell's Patterns of Mammalian Reproduction: A Compendium of Species-Specific Data. Ithaca, NY: Comstock/Cornell University Press.

Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World, 5th Ed., Vol.1. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Vaughan, T., J. Ryan, N. Czaplewski. 2000. Mammalogy, 4th Ed. United States: Thomson Learning, Inc.

Watkins, L., J. Jones, H. Genoways. 1972. Bats of Jalisco, Mexico. Special Publication, 1: 1-44.

Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 1993. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, 2nd Ed. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.