Mormoops megalophyllaghost-faced bat

Geographic Range

Mormoops megalophylla, the ghost-faced bat, is found as far north as southern Arizona and Texas. It is present throughout most of Mexico and populations continue south to northwestern Peru and northern Venezuela (Rezsutek & Cameron, 1993).


Ghost-faced bats are typically found near desert shrub in caves, tunnels, mine shafts, and occasionally old buildings, especially where temperature and humidity are high (Schober & Grimmberger, 1997).

Physical Description

Mormoops megalophylla is a medium sized, reddish-brown to dark brown bat. They have large, rounded ears which join across the

forehead. Leaf-like appendages protrude from the chin. The tail projects dorsally from the uropatagium. No sexual dimorphism is noted; however, the basal metabolic rate is lower for females (Schmidly, 1991; The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition, 1994).

  • Range mass
    13 to 19 g
    0.46 to 0.67 oz


There is a limited amount of data on the reproductive habits of ghost-faced bats. It is believed that mating begins in late December. One offspring is produced per year and is born between late May and early June. Lactating females have been found from

mid June until mid August (Schmidly, 1991).

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual


Ghost-faced bats roost during daylight in large colonies (up to 500,000), however, they do not form compact clusters typical of other species. An individual tends to roost about 15 centimeters away from other members of the colony.

Mormoops megalophylla emerge from caves in the evening to hunt above the ground for large moths and insects. They are strong, fast fliers and frequently hunt over standing water.

It is believed that ghost-faced bats participate in a seasonal migration. They have been found to completely abandon one cave in Texas from April until August (Rezsutek & Cameron, 1993; Schober & Grimmberger, 1997; The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition, 1994).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Not much is known about the food habits of the ghost-faced bat.

Large-bodied moths and other large insects have been found in the stomachs and intestines of individuals (Rezsutek & Cameron, 1993; Schmidly, 1991).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Large amounts of guano (feces) are produced by the large populations in Mexico. Guano is commonly used by locals as a fertilizer (/Mormoops megalophylla/ webpage).

Ghost-faced bats also reduce the number of insect pests present in the areas in which they forage.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

None known.

Conservation Status

Temperate North American bats are now threatened by a fungal disease called “white-nose syndrome.” This disease has devastated eastern North American bat populations at hibernation sites since 2007. The fungus, Geomyces destructans, grows best in cold, humid conditions that are typical of many bat hibernacula. The fungus grows on, and in some cases invades, the bodies of hibernating bats and seems to result in disturbance from hibernation, causing a debilitating loss of important metabolic resources and mass deaths. Mortality rates at some hibernation sites have been as high as 90%. While there are currently no reports of Mormoops megalophylla mortalities as a result of white-nose syndrome, the disease continues to expand its range in North America. (Cryan, 2010; National Park Service, Wildlife Health Center, 2010)

Other Comments

Mormoops megalophylla have been found to roost in old buildings. Four specimen were discovered at Edinburg Junior High School in Edinburg, Texas. They were seen hanging from the rough plaster ceiling in a hallway. They supposedly entered the building at night through an open window (The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition).


Matthew Steinway (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



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

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

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.


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.


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.


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


uses touch to communicate


"Mormoops megalophylla" (On-line). Accessed November 9, 1999 at

1994. "The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition" (On-line). Accessed November 9, 1999 at

Cryan, P. 2010. "White-nose syndrome threatens the survival of hibernating bats in North America" (On-line). U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center. Accessed September 16, 2010 at

National Park Service, Wildlife Health Center, 2010. "White-nose syndrome" (On-line). National Park Service, Wildlife Health. Accessed September 16, 2010 at

Rezsutek, M., G. Cameron. 15 November 1993. Mormoops megalophylla. Mammalian Species, 448: 1-5.

Schmidly, D. 1991. The Bats of Texas. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press.

Schober, W., E. Grimmberger. 1997. The Bats of Europe & North America. USA: T.F.H. Publications, Inc..