Hylonycteris underwoodiUnderwood's long-tongued bat

Geographic Range

Underwood's long-tongued bats range from western Panama to Nayarit and Vera Cruz, Mexico. Hyloncyteris underwoodi is endemic to Central America. (Jones and Homan, 1974; Wilson and Reeder, 1993; Nowak, 1991)


Underwood's long-tongued bats seem to be limited to forested, tropical regions between 50 and 2640 meters elevation. They prefer dense vegetation consisting of deciduous trees forming a full canopy. Roosts have been recorded in hollow logs, under bridges, in caves, and in tunnels. (Phillips and Birney, 1971; Nowak, 1991)

  • Range elevation
    50 to 2640 m
    164.04 to 8661.42 ft

Physical Description

Hylonycteris underwoodi individuals have long, narrow muzzles and long, extensible tongues. They are small-bodied with short tails and well-developed interfemoral membranes. Body mass ranges from 6 to 9 grams, head and body length ranges from 65 to 70 millimeters, and forearm length from 31 to 35 mm. The fur is uniformly dark gray, with the lower surfaces being slightly paler. The lower lip has a wide groove above it, surrounded by small warts. This bat also has distinctive zalambdodont teeth with the inner upper incisors larger than the outer ones. They lack lower incisors . The skull has an incomplete zygomatic arch. The small size of Hyloncyteris underwoodi may aid in maneuverability in flight. (Altringham, 1996; Dobson, 1966; Nowak, 1991)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    6 to 9 g
    0.21 to 0.32 oz
  • Range length
    65 to 70 mm
    2.56 to 2.76 in
  • Average length
    67 mm
    2.64 in


The mating system is not known.

Although very little is known about reproduction in H. underwoodi, they are thought to be monoestrus. Females have a yearly cycle of oestrus, pregnancy, and lactation and usually have one offspring. This is commonly found in phyllostomid bats. (LaVal and Fitch, 1977)

  • Breeding interval
    Underwood's long-tongued bats reproduce once a year.
  • Breeding season
    The breeding season in these bats is unknown.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring

Parental care in H. underwoodi has not yet been described. Females care for and nurse their young in maternity roosts until they reach independence.


The lifespan of H. underwoodi is unknown.


These bats are thought to roost in caves or tunnels in small colonies. They emerge from roosts at dusk to forage for nectar. There is otherwise very little known about behavior in these bats.

Communication and Perception

Communication in H. underwoodi has not been described. Like most mammals, these bats communicate among themselves using sounds, chemical cues, touch, and behaviors. These microchiropterans use those same cues to perceive their environment. They use echolocation as well to navigate and locate food.

Food Habits

Hyloncyteris underwoodi individuals eat primarily nectar and pollen. They also sometimes eat fruit . (Vaughan, et al., 2000; Wilson, 1997)

  • Plant Foods
  • fruit


There is no information regarding predation on H. underwoodi. The most likely predators on these bats are birds of prey, such as falcons and owls, snakes, and other small, arboreal predators.

Ecosystem Roles

In general, frugivorous bats are able to spread seeds for long distances and are notorious for aiding in pollination of certain plants. However, little is known about specific roles of H. underwoodi. (Wilson, 1997)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
  • pollinates

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Hylonycteris underwoodi probably disperses seeds and aids in the pollination of plants that are important to humans. (Wilson, 1997)

  • Positive Impacts
  • pollinates crops
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of H. underwoodi on humans.

Conservation Status

Hyloncyteris underwoodi is currently listed as 'Lower Risk / Near Threatened' by the IUCN . (Kuntz and Racey, 1998; "International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources", 2003)

Other Comments

H. underwoodi is the only species in the genus Hylonycteris. The name literally means 'forest bat'. (Jones and Homan, 1974; Kuntz and Racey, 1998)


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



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


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.


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.

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 plants or parts of plants.


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.


an animal that mainly eats nectar from flowers


active during the night


remains in the same area


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


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


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 sound above the range of human hearing for either navigation or communication or both


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 http://www.redlist.org/.

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

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

Goodwin, G. 1969. Mammals from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Bulletin of American Museum of Natural History, 141: 1-269.

Jones, J., J. Homan. 1974. Mammalian species: Hyloncyteris underwoodi, 32. American Society of Mammalogists, 32: 1-2.

Kuntz, T., P. Racey. 1998. Bat Biology and Conservation. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

LaVal, R., H. Fitch. 1977. Structure, movement and reproduction in three Costa Rican bat communities. Occasional Papers, 69: 28.

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

Phillips, C., E. Birney. 1971. A new subspecies of the long-nosed bat, Hyloncyteris underwoodi, from Mexico. Journal of Mammalogy, 52: 77-80.

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

Wilson, D. 1997. Bats in Question. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

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