Megaderma lyragreater false vampire bat

Geographic Range

Megaderma lyra is found from eastern Pakistan and Sri Lanka to southeastern China and the northern Malay Peninsula.

(Lekagul & McNeely, 1977)


Megaderma lyra uses day roosts in caves, pits, buildings and hollow trees. These bats reside in more arid areas than M. spasma .

They generally forage less than 1 meter from the ground among trees and undergrowth in tropical forested habitats (Lekagul & MCNeely, 1977).

Physical Description

Total body length ranges from 65-95 mm, with weights from 40-60 g. Fur is grayish brown above and whitish gray below (Lekagul & McNeely, 1977). Ears are large and connected above rostrum and there is no external tail (Nowak, 1994).

  • Range mass
    40 to 60 g
    1.41 to 2.11 oz
  • Range length
    65 to 95 mm
    2.56 to 3.74 in


Females segregate from males prior to parturition, otherwise both sexes occupy the same roost sites. Other aspects of mating behavior in this species are unknown (Nowak, 1994).

Mating takes place from November through January, with one (occasionally two) young born from April to June. Gestation lasts 150-160 days, with post-natal development following a logistic curve. The sex ratio is balanced at birth. Males are sexually mature by 15 months, females at 19 months (Goymann et al., 1999).

  • Breeding season
    November through January
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    150 to 160 days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    15 to 19 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    15 to 19 months

Females carry young with them during foraging until the pups are between one and twenty-three days old, at which point they “park” them at either a day or a special night roost. Young are nursed for 2 to 3 months (Goymann et al., 1999).


  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    14 years


Asian False Vampire Bats are nocturnal and social. Day roosts contain groups of 3 to 30, although a seasonal colony of 1500 to 2000 was reported in India (Nowak, 1994). Most individuals maintain a distance of approximately 9 cm from conspecifics. Occasionally up to five individuals will roost in contact clusters restricted to mothers and offspring (Goymann et al., 1999).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Megaderma lyra is mostly carnivorous, with a diet consisting of large insects, spiders, and small vertebrates such as bats, birds, rodents, and fish. Prey are detected either by passive listening or with the help of echolocation, then gleaned from the substrate and removed to a night roost where they are consumed (Schmidt et al., 2000; Rajan & Marimuthu, 1999). They will occasionally enter houses to take prey, such as lizards and insects, from the walls (Nowak, 1994).

  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • reptiles
  • fish
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods


Megaderma species are agile in flight, allowing them to avoid some predation. Although little is known of predation on this species, it is likely that much predation occurs on young in roosts by small predators such as snakes, viverrids, and birds of prey.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Megaderma lyra will occasionally enter human dwellings to capture prey.

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known negative effects of Asian False Vampire Bats.

Conservation Status

Populations of Megaderma lyra are not currently threatened.


Joshua Stumpf (author), California State University, Sacramento, James Biardi (editor), California State University, Sacramento.



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.


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.


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


union of egg and spermatozoan


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.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


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


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


an animal that mainly eats fish


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


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


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


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


Begum, ., K. Alexander. 1993. Specialized skin glands of behavioral relevance in the microchiropteran bat, *Megaderma lyra*.. Bat Research News, 34 (1): 11-12.

Goyman, W., D. Leippert, H. Hofer. 2000. Sexual Segregation, roosting, and social behavior in a free-ranging colony of Indian false vampires (*Megaderma lyra*).. Zeitschrift fuer Saeugetierkunde, 65 (3): 138-148.

Leippert, D. 1994. Social behavior on the wing in the false vampire, *Megaderma lyra*. Ethology, 98 (2): 111-127.

Lekagul, B., J. McNeely. 1977. Mammals of Thailand. Bangkok: Sahakarnbharn.

Nowak, R. 1994. Walker's Bats of the World. Baltomore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Rajan, K., G. Marimuthu. 1999. Localization of prey by the Indian false vampire bat, *Megaderma lyra*. Mammalia, 63(2): 149-158.

Schmidt, S., S. Hanke, J. Pillat. 2000. The role of echolocation in hunting terrestrial prey – new evidence for an underestimated strategy in the gleaning bat, *Megaderma lyra*. Journal of Comparative Physiology, 186 (10): 975-988.