Miniopterusbent-winged bats and long-fingered bats


The genus Miniopterus includes 31 currently recognized species, commonly called bent-winged bats. However, the diversity of Miniopterus is presently understudied and at least seven new species have been described in the Afrotropical region between 2010 and 2020. Additionally, genetic and morphological analysis of common bent-winged bats (Miniopterus schreibersii) provided evidence that there are significant genetic differences between separate populations. It is likely that there are some cryptic bent-winged bat species, as they are generally difficult to differentiate and classify morphologically. There are species of bent-winged bats distributed across southern Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Asia. Species in the genus Miniopterus are distinguishable by their elongated third fingers, which is where they get the common name bent-winged (or long-winged) bats. (Monadjem, et al., 2019; Nowak, 1994; "Search-Miniopterus", 2022; Sramek, et al., 2013)

Geographic Range

Bent-winged bats are found throughout much of the eastern hemisphere. Their range extends through Mediterranean Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Madagascar, much of Asia, Indonesia, and Australia. There is recent evidence of their range extending as far north as Poland. Common bent-winged bats (Miniopterus schreibersii) are found practically throughout this entire range, while most other bent-winged bat species have smaller, localized ranges. (Nowak, 1994; Piksa and Gubala, 2021)


Bent-winged bats mostly roost in caves, though they have also been found in cave-like structures such as tree hollows and building roofs. They inhabit a variety of forested areas, especially near caves and rock outcroppings that are ideal for roosting. Bent-winged bats can live in montane, lowland, deciduous, coniferous, dry, and humid forests, depending on the species and their range. Aellen's bent-winged bats (Minopterus aelleni) are found in open areas as well as enclosed forested areas. (Christidis, et al., 2014; Dalhoumi, et al., 2014; Mertz, 2004; Nowak, 1994)

Systematic and Taxonomic History

Bent-winged bats are members of the subfamily Miniopterinae and the family Vespertilionidae. This group has not previously been classified by any scientific names besides Miniopterus. The taxonomic validity of several species within Miniopterus is highly contested and has been further complicated by the recent definition of several new species. (Monadjem, et al., 2020; Nowak, 1994; Sramek, et al., 2013; Wilson and Reeder, 2005)

  • Synapomorphies
    • Greatly elongated second bone of the third finger
    • Elongated, completely enclosed tails
    • Cave roosting

Physical Description

Bent-winged bats are generally brown in color, with hints of gray and red pelage in some species. Their fur covers their bodies, but their wings and uropatagia are hairless. Newborns are altricial and lack fur completely. As adults, bent-winged bats weigh between 6 and 20 g, depending on the species. The combined length of their heads and bodies ranges from 40 to 78 mm, their tails range from 40 to 67 mm long, and their forearms range from 37 to 55 mm long, although these length ranges also depend on species. Bent-winged bats are sexually dimorphic, with females larger than males, on average. All species in the genus Minioptera are distinguishable by their elongated third finger bones. Their tails are also longer than other similar-sized bats and are completely enclosed by their uropatagia. (Nowak, 1994; Perfetto, 2022)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger


Bent-winged bat species are suspected to have polygynous mating systems with older, more dominant males having more access to females. Males and females migrate to roost sites during mating season. Researchers have suggested that least long-fingered bats (Miniopterus minor) and common bent-winged bats (Miniopterus schreibersii) both have olfactory lek mating systems, wherein males secrete pungent odors to compete for female preference. Alternatively, little bent-winged bats (Miniopterus australis) exhibit harem mating systems. (McWilliam, 2010; Mertz, 2004)

Bent-winged bats have reproductive cycles that differ between species depending on their geographic location. In general, bent-winged bats give birth to one to two pups per breeding cycle. European species breed in late summer or early fall, between August and September, but embryo development is delayed through hibernation, only giving birth in spring. Least bent-winged bats (Miniopterus australis) breed in August, embryo development beginning by mid September and birth occurring in December. Females are prepared to mate again as soon as their young are weaned, which takes around two months after they are born. Some evidence suggests that species or populations living in warmer-climates may be able to reproduce year round, whereas species or populations at more temperate climates breed only seasonally, depending on the timing of hibernation. (Mertz, 2004; Nowak, 1994)

Female bent-winged bats perform the majority of parental investment. Males are absent from roosting colonies by the time young are born. Bent-winged bats do not carry their young with them as they forage, as many species of bats (order Chiroptera) do. Instead, they place their young in communal nursery colonies, which are separate from adult colonies. Young are weaned by around two months of age and reach sexual maturity at around one year. (Mertz, 2004; Nowak, 1994)


Bats in the genus Miniopterus have an average lifespan of around 17 years. Common bent-winged bats (Miniopterus schreibersii) have been recorded to live up to 22 years. Juvenile bats in the genus Miniopterus reach maturity at around one year of age. (Foley, et al., 2018; Mertz, 2004)


Bent-winged bats are nocturnal and capable of true flight, using echolocation to navigate their environment in the dark. Species in the genus Miniopterus are social, forming colonies during periods of hibernation or when females are rearing young. Maternity colonies have been recorded to include as many as 110,000 individuals and hibernacula have been recorded to include more that 83,000 individuals, although these numbers are significantly higher than average colony sizes. Hibernacula generally have higher genetic diversity than maternity colonies, indicating that hibernation caves consist of individuals from various maternity colonies. Bent-winged bats exhibit some hierarchy in mating; older males more readily gain access to females during mating season. This is because dominant males roost deeper in mating caves, closer to where females roost, whereas younger males roost nearer to roost entrances or the perimeter of the roosting colonies. (McWilliam, 2010; Mertz, 2004; Nowak, 1994)

There is limited information regarding migratory behavior of bent-winged bats, although it is known that they migrate short distances at least. Bent-winged bats roost in caves or cave-like structures year round. They use roosts for three main purposes: breeding, rearing young, and hibernating. Recent studies have shown evidence of common bent-winged bats (Miniopterus schreibersii) in Europe migrating northeast to southwest and there is evidence of elevational migration in natal long-fingered bats (Miniopterus natalensis) living near Mount Kilimanjaro. (Nowak, 1994; Voigt, et al., 2014; Wright, et al., 2020)

Communication and Perception

Bent-winged bats use echolocation to sense their surroundings and locate prey. They modulate the frequency of their echolocation to detect objects at specific distances and to differentiate their calls from other individuals or species. Bats also have well-developed vision in low-light conditions, although they rely more heavily on echolocation when it is very dark, as in caves or late at night. Bent-winged bats communicate with each other vocally using chirps, screeches, and other, non-foraging calls. There also evidence that bent-winged bats use olfactory stimuli to communicate. For instance, male common bent-winged bats (Miniopterus schreibersii) release pungent odors to distinguish dominance during breeding leks. Tactile communication is also important for breeding pairs and for parent-offspring pairs. (Hase, et al., 2018; McWilliam, 2010; Prat, et al., 2016)

Food Habits

Bent-winged bats are generalist insectivorous. Many species eat beetles (order Coleoptera), moths (order Lepidoptera), flies (order Diptera), net-winged insects (order Neuroptera), and insects from other various groups. Natal long-fingered bats (Miniopterus natalensis) have also been recorded eating aquatic insects, although generally in small volumes. Bent-winged bats use echolocation to forage for insects nocturnally. (Mertz, 2004)


Bent-winged bats have several behavioral adaptations to avoid predators, including nocturnality, small body size, dark coloration, and volancy. Predators of bent-winged bats include owls (order Strigiformes), foxes in the genus Vulpes, rats (order Rodentia), cats (genus Felis), snakes (order Squamata, suborder Serpentes), and other carnivorous animals. Additionally, there are reports of ghost bats (genus Diclidurus) preying on little bent-winged bats (Miniopterus australis). (Mertz, 2004; Nowak, 1994)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

As insectivores, bent-winged bats serve an important role in controlling insect populations. They also serve as prey items for various small and medium-sized carnivores. Bent-winged bat species are hosts for numerous species of parasites, including mites (subclass Acari), flies (order Diptera), roundworms (phylum Nematoda), and flukes (phylum Trematoda). They are also known hosts for the flea species Nycteridopsylla pentactena and the tapeworm species Milina grisea. (Leger, 2020; Mertz, 2004; Nowak, 1994)

Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Bent-winged bats eat insects, some of which can be crop pests. The activity of bent-winged bats reduces the need for (and cost of) pesticides and other pest reduction measures. (Mertz, 2004; Nowak, 1994)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of bent-winged bats on humans.

Conservation Status

Of the 31 bent-winged bat species listed on the IUCN Red List, 19 species are listed as "least concern", two are listed as "near threatened", one is listed as "vulnerable", and two are listed as "endangered". The remaining seven species lack sufficient data to determine conservation status. Bent-winged bats are sensitive to human disruption, and human expansion has led to a reduction in suitable roost sites. (Nowak, 1994; "Search-Miniopterus", 2022)

  • IUCN Red List [Link]
    Not Evaluated


Ella Myers (author), Colorado State University, Galen Burrell (editor), Special Projects.



Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

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living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

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living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

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uses sound to communicate


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.


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.

delayed fertilization

a substantial delay (longer than the minimum time required for sperm to travel to the egg) takes place between copulation and fertilization, used to describe female sperm storage.

delayed implantation

in mammals, a condition in which a fertilized egg reaches the uterus but delays its implantation in the uterine lining, sometimes for several months.

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


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.


having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

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.

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having more than one female as a mate at one time


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.

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


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


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

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


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.


2022. "Search-Miniopterus" (On-line). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed September 30, 2022 at

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Dalhoumi, R., A. Hedfi, P. Aissa, S. Aulagnier. 2014. Bats of Jebel Mghilla National Park (central Tunisia): first survey and habitat-related activity. Tropical Zoology, 27(2): 53-62. Accessed September 30, 2022 at

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Gurun, K., A. Furman, J. Juste, M. Ramos Pereira, J. Palmeirim, S. Peuchmaille, P. Hulva, . Presetnik, D. Hamidovic, C. Ibáñez, A. Karataş, B. Allegrini, P. Georgiakakis, D. Scaravelli, M. Uhrin, H. Nicolaou, M. Abi-Said, N. Nagy, S. Gazaryan, R. Bilgin. 2019. A continent-scale study of the social structure and phylogeography of the bent-wing bat, Miniopterus schreibersii (Mammalia: Chiroptera), using new microsatellite data. Journal of Mammalogy, 100(6): 1865-1878. Accessed September 07, 2022 at

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Mills, D. 2021. Summer and autumn activity patterns of the eastern bent-wing bat (Miniopterus orianae oceanensis) at a large maternity site in southern New South Wales. Australian Journal of Zoology, 68(6): 332-345. Accessed September 07, 2022 at

Monadjem, A., J. Guyton, P. Naskrecki, L. Richards, A. Kropff, D. Dalton. 2020. Cryptic Diversity in the Genus Miniopterus with the Description of a New Species from Southern Africa. Acta Chiropterologica, 22(1): 1-19. Accessed September 07, 2022 at

Monadjem, A., J. Shapiro, L. Richards, H. Karabulut, W. Crawley, I. Broman Nielsen, A. Hansen, K. Bohmann, T. Mourier. 2019. Systematics of West African Miniopterus with the Description of a New Species. Acta Chiropterologica, 21(2): 237-256. Accessed September 12, 2022 at

Moyo, S., D. Jacobs. 2020. Faecal analyses and alimentary tracers reveal the foraging ecology of two sympatric bats. PLoS One, vol. 15 (1): 1-22. Accessed November 16, 2022 at

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Perfetto, I. 2022. "The Southern bent-wing bat is the 2022 Australian Mammal of the Year" (On-line). Cosmos Magazine. Accessed October 13, 2022 at

Piksa, K., W. Gubala. 2021. First record of Miniopterus schreibersii (Chiroptera: Miniopteridae) in Poland—a possible range expansion?. Mammal Research, 66: 211-215. Accessed September 30, 2022 at

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Ramos Pereira, M., P. Salgueiro, L. Rodrigues, M. Coelho, J. Palmeirm. 2009. Population Structure of a Cave-Dwelling Bat, Miniopterus schreibersii: Does It Reflect History and Social Organization?. Journal of Heredity, 100(5): 533-544. Accessed October 26, 2022 at

Sramek, J., V. Gvozdik, P. Benda. 2013. Hidden diversity in bent-winged bats (Chiroptera: Miniopteridae) of the Western Palaearctic and adjacent regions: implications for taxonomy. Zoological Journal, 167 (1): 165-190. Accessed September 22, 2022 at

Voigt, C., M. Helbig-Bonitz, S. Kramer-Schadt, E. Kalko. 2014. The third dimension of bat migration: evidence for elevational movements of Miniopterus natalensis along the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Oecologia, 174(3): 751-764. Accessed September 12, 2022 at

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Wright, P., J. Newton, P. Agnelli, I. Budinski, I. Di Salvo, C. Flaquer, A. Fulco, P. Georgiakakis, A. Martinoli, M. Mas, M. Mazija, M. Mucedda, E. Papadatou, B. Petrov, L. Rodrigues, F. Mathews, D. Russo. 2020. Hydrogen isotopes reveal evidence of migration of Miniopterus schreibersii in Europe. BMC Ecology, 20: 52-61. Accessed September 22, 2022 at