Rhinopoma hardwickiilesser mouse-tailed bat

Geographic Range

Lesser mouse-tailed bats (Rhinopoma hardwickii) range from as far east as Thailand westward through Burma, India, Pakistan, and Iran. They can also be found in the African Sahara mostly north of 15°N, but have been known to occupy as far south as Kenya. (Benda, et al., 2010; Benda, et al., 2004a; Qumsiyeh and Knox Jones Jr, 1986)


Lesser mouse-tailed bats inhabit deserts and semi-deserts where roosts and food are available. Within these climates they are generally found in grasslands and oases (Benda, Aulagnier, and Palmeirim, 2010), but can occasionally be found in gardens and orchards (Benda et al., 2004). Their roosts consist of dry caves, houses, pyramids, underground tunnels, and wells. In summer months, they roost in small crevices, fissures, or between boulders (Benda, Aulagnier, and Palmeirim, 2010). (Benda, et al., 2004b; Benda, et al., 2010; Davis, 2007)

Physical Description

Lesser mouse-tailed bats get their common name from their slender, long, free tail. The total body length ranges from 119 to 141 mm and the tail makes up approximately 57 to 70 mm of that. The hindfoot, ear, and forearm length measure 12 to 15 mm, 18 to 21 mm, and 52.4 to 60 mm respectively. (Qumsiyeh and Knox Jones Jr, 1986)

The skull of lesser mouse-tailed bats are short with 28 teeth and a dental formula of 1/2, 1/1, 1/2, 3/3. The skull is widest at the squamosal region of the zygomatic arch. Other distinguishing features of the skull include the loose tympanic bone and an inflated lacrimal region. (Qumsiyeh and Knox Jones Jr, 1986)

Lesser mouse-tailed bats are small, with tails generally longer than their forearms. Their backs are greyish brown to dark brown in color with pale undersides. The snouts have a small triangular noseleaf and their tragi are well developed. They have large rhomboidal pinna that are connected across the forehead and there are 10 transverse ridges that cross the ear. The uropatagium of lesser mouse-tailed bats are small and only enclose less than one quarter of the tail. (Davis, 2007; Qumsiyeh and Knox Jones Jr, 1986)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    10 to 12 g
    0.35 to 0.42 oz
  • Range length
    119 to 141 mm
    4.69 to 5.55 in


Little is known of the mating systems of lesser mouse-tailed bats.

Although little is known about lesser mouse-tailed bat reproductive biology, they have a defined annual reproductive cycle. Insemination occurs between February and April, although ovulation does not occur until mid-March. Gestation lasts about 95 to 100 days and young are born between the second week of June and the end of July. Lactation lasts up to 20 days, during which time lactating females are segregated from the group. (Karim and Banerjee, 1989; Karim and Fazil, 1987; Whitaker Jr. and Yom-Tov, 2002)

Male lesser mouse-tailed bats take much longer than females to reach sexual maturity. Females become sexually mature between 8.5 to 9 months of age, whereas males do not become sexually mature until 16 to 17 months. (Karim and Fazil, 1987)

  • Breeding interval
    Lesser mouse-tailed bats breed annually.
  • Breeding season
    Lesser mouse-tailed bats breed from late February to mid April.
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    95 to 100 days
  • Range weaning age
    20 (high) days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    8.5 (low) months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    9 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    16 to 17 months

Little is known about the parental investment of lesser mouse-tailed bats.

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


Little is known of the lifespan and longevity of lesser mouse-tailed bats.


Lesser mouse-tailed bats are active year round and use stored abdominal fats during the winter (Whitaker Jr. and Yom-Tov, 2002). Lesser mouse-tailed bats are adapted to withstand extremely hot, arid conditions as well as low humidity (Davis, 2007). (Davis, 2007; Whitaker Jr. and Yom-Tov, 2002)

Lesser mouse-tailed bats have been found roosting in small groups ranging from 4 to 10 individuals (Davis, 2007) to large colonies composed of up to 500 individuals (Benda, Aulagnier, and Palmeirim, 2010). Sexual segregation may occur and is generally directed towards lactating females (Karim and Fazil, 1987). (Benda, et al., 2010; Davis, 2007; Karim and Fazil, 1987)

Lesser mouse-tailed bat flight patterns consist of alternating flutters and glides. This gives the appearance that they are rising and falling, so that from a distance, they may be mistaken for a small bird (Whitaker Jr. and Yom-Tov, 2002). (Whitaker Jr. and Yom-Tov, 2002)

Home Range

Little is known about the ranging behavior of lesser mouse-tailed bats.

Communication and Perception

Lesser mouse-tailed bats are considered to be "acoustically primitive" because they use signals with four or more harmonics and with little frequency variation (Whitaker Jr. and Yom-Tov, 2002). They emit long constant frequency (CF) calls at 30 to 34 kHz with a peak energy at 32 kHz (Davis, 2007). They emit these CF sounds when flying in open spaces for approximately 48 ms. When they fly in groups, lesser mouse-tailed bats emit CFs in three bands. However, when they fly solo the bat emits CFs in only one band. Frequency modulated (FM) sounds are produced only as they leave their roost or shortly before landing (Whitaker Jr. and Yom-Tov, 2002). (Davis, 2007; Whitaker Jr. and Yom-Tov, 2002)

Food Habits

Lesser mouse-tailed bars are insectivorous bats with beetles making up about 50% of their diet. They also feed on moths and neuropterans, but their overall diet is much less diverse than other bats (Whitaker Jr. and Yom-Tov, 2002). Lesser mouse-tailed bats swoop and glide at 5 to 10 meters off the ground when in search of food (Davis, 2007). (Davis, 2007; Whitaker Jr. and Yom-Tov, 2002)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects


Barn owls are the only known predator of lesser moused-tailed bats.

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Little is known of the ecosystem roles that lesser mouse-tailed bats play.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There are no known positive effects of lesser mouse-tailed bats on humans. However, since they are insectivores, they may help control the population of insect pests.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known negative impacts of lesser mouse-tailed bats on humans.

Conservation Status

Populations of Rhinopoma hardwickii are common and widespread with no major threats of decline. In 1996 it was categorized as vulnerable, but was changed to least concern in 2004, and has sustained the same categorization ever since. (Benda, et al., 2010)


Tara Whiting (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Alecia Stewart-Malone (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Laura Podzikowski (editor), Special Projects.



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

World Map


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

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.


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.

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.


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.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


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

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


Living on the ground.


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.


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


Benda, P., S. Aulagnier, J. Palmeirim. 2010. "Rhinopoma hardwickii" (On-line). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed August 12, 2011 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/19599/0.

Benda, P., V. Hanák, M. Andreas, A. Reiter, M. Uhrin. 2004. Two new species of bats (Chiroptera) for the fauna of Libya: Rhinopoma hardwickii and Pipistrellus rueppellii. MYOTIS, 41-42: 109-124. Accessed August 12, 2011 at http://www.nm.cz/download/pm/zoo/benda_lit/Benda2004myotis.pdf.

Benda, P., M. Ruedi, S. Aulagnier. 2004. New data on the distribution of bats (Chiroptera) in Morocco. Vespertilio, 8: 13–44. Accessed August 12, 2011 at http://www.nm.cz/download/pm/zoo/benda_lit/Benda2004vesp_a.pdf.

Davis, L. 2007. "An Introduction to the Bats of United Arab Emirates" (On-line pdf). Accessed August 12, 2011 at http://www.echoesecology.co.uk/documents/BatsoftheUAE_000.pdf.

Karim, K., M. Fazil. 1987. Early embryonic development and preimplantation changes in the uterus of the bat Rhinopoma hardwickei hardwickei (Gray) (Rhinopomatidae). American Journal of Anatomy, 178: 341–351.

Karim, K., S. Banerjee. 1989. Reproduction in the Indian mouse-tailed bat, Rhinopoma hardwickei hardwickei (Chiroptera, Rhinopomatidae). Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 1: 255–264.

Qumsiyeh, M., J. Knox Jones Jr. 1986. Rhinopoma hardwickii and Rhinopoma muscatellum. Mammalian Species, 263: 1-5. Accessed August 12, 2011 at http://www.science.smith.edu/msi/pdf/i0076-3519-263-01-0001.pdf.

Whitaker Jr., J., Y. Yom-Tov. 2002. The Diet of Some Insectivorous Bats from Northern Isreal. Mammalian Biology, 67: 378-380. Accessed August 12, 2011 at http://www.tau.ac.il/lifesci/zoology/members/yom-tov/articles/The_diet.pdf.