Leptonycteris curasoaesouthern long-nosed bat

Geographic Range

The range of Leptonycteris curasoae is from the southwest of Northern America to northern South America. The farthest north they are typically found is southern Arizona, and they have been recorded in northern Venezuela as their southernmost point (Simal et al., 2015). Depending on the concentration of food resources during the year, particularly when they are becoming sparse, L. curasoae migrates, sometimes as far as over the ocean from one island to another (Simal et al., 2015). During the spring and summer, they can be found above 29ºN (Rojas-Martinez et al., 1999). Throughout the year, though, they are found below 21ºN; this persistence of some members of the population is primarily due to females migrating to find maternity caves. (Rojas-Martinez et al., 1999) (Simal et al., 2015). They are found in the Nearctic region and Neotropical region. ("Leptonycteris curasoae", 2015; Ober, et al., 2005; Rojas-Martinez, et al., 1999; Simal, et al., 2015)


Leptonycteris curasoae lives in a semiarid or arid environment potentially including dry forests (Simal et al., 2015). Plants in the area will include cacti, shrubs, and other fruiting and flowering plants that they use as food sources (Simal et al., 2015). They roost in caves and are site-faithful to individual caves in whatever region they live, meaning that they do usually occupy more than one roost (Ober, Steidl, and Dalton, 2005). They migrate to find better food resources, following blooming plants such as cactus and agave, but when the food is abundant, they stay in the same cave as a day roost continually (Ober, Steidl, and Dalton, 2005). ("Leptonycteris curasoae", 2015; Ober, et al., 2005; Rojas-Martinez, et al., 1999; Simal, et al., 2015; Stoner, et al., 2003)

  • Other Habitat Features
  • caves
  • Range elevation
    1500 (high) m
    4921.26 (high) ft

Physical Description

The southern long-nosed bat is a medium or large bat of the Phyllostomidae family, which means that they have a characteristic leaf-shaped nose. (Cole and Wilson, 2006) Leptonycteris curasoae has small, dark brown ears. (Cole and Wilson, 2006) Their coat is gray-brown when they are adults. (Cole and Wilson, 2006) Male L. curasoae have developed dorsal patches for breeding that have a strong odor and are chemically complex to show females that they are a good mate.(Muñoz-Romo, Burgos and Kunz, 2011) Their molars are long and thin (Cole and Wilson, 2006). Their tongues are long and brush-tipped to help with visiting flowers for food (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2018). On average, their forearm length is 46 to 57 mm (Simal et al., 2015). Males have an average mass of 26.4 g (Ceballos and Fleming, 1997). Females who are not pregnant have an average mass of 24.9 g (Ceballos and Fleming, 1997). They can fly approximately 8.2 m/s (Cole and Wilson, 2006). ("Lesser Long-Nosed Bats", 2018; Ceballos and Fleming, 1997; Cole and Wilson, 2006; Muñoz-Romo, et al., 2011; Sahley, et al., 1993; Simal, et al., 2015; Stoner, et al., 2003)

  • Range mass
    18 to 30 g
    0.63 to 1.06 oz
  • Average length
    7.62 cm
    3.00 in
  • Average wingspan
    34 cm
    13.39 in


Leptonycteris curasoae colonies are usually separated by sex, and are combined only for breeding in special caves used for mating (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 2015). The female chooses a mate based on the male’s dorsal patch (Muñoz-Romo, Burgos and Kunz, 2011). A female will not choose a male without a developed dorsal patch (Muñoz-Romo, Burgos and Kunz, 2011). Female L. curasoae use the dorsal patch to choose a mate by analyzing the complex odor and chemical composition of the dorsal patch(Muñoz-Romo, Burgos and Kunz, 2011). A highly developed dorsal patch will indicate the reproductive fitness of a male L. curasoae by showing if they are healthy and if they possess any diseases or parasites that are detectable in body fluids (Muñoz-Romo, Burgos and Kunz, 2011). Male southern long-nosed bats develop a dorsal patch during the mating time of the year by smearing themselves with body fluids (Muñoz-Romo, Burgos and Kunz, 2011). They spread body fluids collected from the head, mouth, penis and anus onto the interscapular region of their body with their hands (Muñoz-Romo, Burgos and Kunz, 2011). The male will smear the body fluids onto the dorsal patch for about 2 minutes whenever they take the time to do this, and they will perform around 100 body touches during this time (Muñoz-Romo, Burgos and Kunz, 2011). While collecting body fluids to spread on the dorsal patch, they also lick their hands to use the saliva as a base composition of chemicals on the dorsal patch, and they use saliva before touching the dorsal patch, after touching other parts of their body (Muñoz-Romo, Burgos and Kunz, 2011). ("Leptonycteris curasoae", 2015; Muñoz-Romo, et al., 2011)

Leptonycteris curasoae raise the young in maternal colonies that are kept in warm caves, but no cooperative raising of the offspring occurs (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). Maternity caves have been recorded in the Paranguaná Peninsula, Northwestern Venezuela, Margarita island, and Curaçao island (Simal et al., 2015). The warm environment helps the southern long-nosed bat to expend less energy, and it also helps the offspring to develop more quickly (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). The lack of cooperative raising is due partially to the fact that there is not a consistent group of bats that lives together every year due to their seasonal migration (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). The bats are considered to be monestrous, and so there is only one offspring per birth, which happens once a year for the mature female bats (Stoner et al., 2003). Leptonycteris curasoae usually breeds between November and December (Stoner et al., 2003). Populations in Venezuela lactate mainly in June; populations in Curaçao lactate mainly in June (Simal et al., 2015). Their period of gestation typically lasts 6 months (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2018). ("Lesser Long-Nosed Bats", 2018; Fleming, et al., 1998; Stoner, et al., 2003)

  • Breeding interval
    Lesser long-nosed bats breed once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Lesser long-nosed bats breed between November and December.
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average gestation period
    6 months

Leptonycteris curasoae is a mammal and is required to be fairly invested in their offspring for acts such as nursing and raising the young (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). The southern long-nosed bat nurses most often from May to June (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). Unlike some other bats, L. curasoae does not carry their offspring while foraging at night or while flying in the cave; they only carry their offspring during day roosting in the cave (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). L. curasoae will leave their babies in the cave while they go out to forage, and then return a few times a night to nurse (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). The southern long-nosed bat nurses a couple of times each night for a total of 50 minutes of nursing; they nurse for a few minutes and then leave, and then return to let the baby nurse again (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). When the mother bat returns during the night to her offspring, she does not regurgitate any food for the offspring, nor does she groom the offspring (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). Interaction between the mother and baby are mostly nose-nose contacts and allowing the baby to climb onto their chest or back (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). L. curasoae offspring are raised individually, and not communally, mothers will not care for or nurse offspring of other bats (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). During day roosting, the mother bats do not sleep, they are always aware and attentive while resting, spending a lot of their time grooming themselves (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). During this day roost, they do hold their offspring, unlike at night (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). (Fleming, et al., 1998)


The average bat, including Leptonycteris curasoae, can live to be about 30 years old (Tuttle, 1997). (Tuttle, 1997)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    30 years


Leptonycteris curasoae is a migratory bat species, unlike most other bat species, who hibernate during the winter (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2018). L. curasoae migrates to find food resources like agave and cacti, and they migrate to match the blooming patterns of the plants with which they share a mutualistic relationship. The females of this species are also more likely to migrate than the males (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2018). ("Lesser Long-Nosed Bats", 2018)

Leptonycteris curasoae roosts in hot and humid caves, hanging from the ceiling with thousands of other lesser long-nosed bats (Cole and Wilson, 2006). They roost in hot and humid caves to decrease their metabolic expenditure, decrease their water loss during the day, and to help with the development of their embryos and pups (in maternity roosts) (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2018). ("Lesser Long-Nosed Bats", 2018; Cole and Wilson, 2006)

Leptonycteris curasoae, like other bats, flies and is nocturnal. L. curasoae also is known to hover over clusters of flowers (Cole and Wilson, 2006). (Cole and Wilson, 2006)

Communication and Perception

Leptonycteris curasoae, like other bats, uses echolocation to ‘see’ at night, and to find food resources in the dark. Echolocation is a sensory technique that uses sonar waves to create an ‘image’ of the surroundings by processing the sounds that bounce back from the surroundings; the animal hears these returning sonar waves and is able to create an image of the surrounding area based on the way the sound comes back to them. Females of L. curasoae also communicate with males through the male dorsal patch used for reproduction (Muñoz-Romo, Burgos and Kunz, 2011). The dorsal patch uses chemical odor signals to communicate reproductive fitness of the males to the females (Muñoz-Romo, Burgos and Kunz, 2011). (Muñoz-Romo, et al., 2011)

Food Habits

Leptonycteris curasoae is a nectarivore that eats nectar, pollen, fruit, and flowers near and around their roosting caves (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). Leptonycteris curasoae is not a cooperative bat, and no food is shared amongst the population, but when they are feeding on agave plants, they cooperate by taking turns at the plants (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). While nursing, the southern long-nosed bat, feeds mostly on the flowers of the saguaro cactus; the saguaro cactus opens from May to June and begins to open at night from 21:00 to 23:00 (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). The bats feed from these cacti mostly from 24:00 to 02:00 while foraging during the night. L. curasoae migrates during the year in order to find more food resources, so different kinds of plants are more important during specific times of the year (Fleming, Nelson, and Dalton, 1998). From January to May, Bombacaceae species of plants are most important (Stoner et al., 2003). From June to September, Cactaceae species of plants (cactus) are most important; columnar cactus is often described in conjunction with L. curasoae, and especially with their migratory habits (Stoner et al., 2003). While L. curasoae is an herbivore, they have been found to accidentally ingest insects while eating fruit (Stoner et al., 2003). This ingestion of insects may also help with increased protein and nutrient intake when food resources are more limited. (Fleming, et al., 1998; Stoner, et al., 2003)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit
  • nectar
  • pollen


Leptonycteris curasoae, like other bats, has a low predation rate due to the fact that they are agile fliers and have fairly protected roosting sites. However, bats like L. curasoae face predation by animals like the giant centipede (Molinari et al., 2005). The giant centipede (Scolopendridae) is much larger than the bat and is able to climb onto the ceiling of the roost cave and catch a bat while it is flying by, using its poison claw to inject a venom, subduing the bat (Molinari et al., 2005). Some other predators of tropical bats, including L. curasoae are praying mantises, wasps, mygalomorph spiders, scorpions, solpugids, and decapod crustaceans (Molinari et al., 2005). (Molinari, et al., 2005)

  • Known Predators
    • giant centipedes (Scolopendridae)
    • praying mantis (Mantodea)
    • wasps (Aprocrita)
    • mygalomorph spiders (Mygalamorphae)
    • scorpions (Scorpiones)
    • solpugids (Solifugae)

Ecosystem Roles

The major ecosystem roles of Leptonycteris curasoae are to pollinate crops and disperse seeds (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2018). They have mutualistic relationships with many plant species, but most prominently, they eat the fruit, nectar, or pollen of agave and columnar cacti plants (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2018). Through eating the plants that they follow for blooming patterns during migration, they pass the seeds near and along their yearly migration routes, contributing to the reproduction of the plants, and maintain their own food sources. Another small role that they play in the ecosystem is one of insect population management; they do not intentionally eat many insects, but they eat some while eating fruit, pollen, or nectar (Stoner et al., 2003). ("Lesser Long-Nosed Bats", 2018)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
  • pollinates
Mutualist Species
  • blue agave (Agave tequilana)
  • columnar cacti (Cereus species)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Leptonycteris curasoae pollinates plants that are important to the ecosystem’s health (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2018). Leptonycteris curasoae is a significant pollinator for the agave plant used in tequila production, a multimillion dollar industry (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2018). Bats, not just L. curasoae are good at managing pests like insects as well. Bat guano is also a fertilizer that can be harvested for agricultural purposes (Bat Conservation International, 2018). Bats are said to be worth almost $4 billion a year in pest management, minimizing crop damage and the need for pesticides in the agriculture industry (Bat Conservation International, 2018). ("Lesser Long-Nosed Bats", 2018; "Bats are Important", 2018)

  • Positive Impacts
  • produces fertilizer
  • pollinates crops

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Bats in general, not just Leptonycteris curasoae can be a potential cause of disease for humans, but no more so than other related animals (Hoffmaster, Vonk, Mies, 2016). Bats are most commonly known for spreading rabies, but less than 0.5% of bats contract rabies, and they are not aggressive when they do contract the disease (Tuttle, 1997). (Hoffmaster, et al., 2016; Tuttle, 1997)

Conservation Status

Leptonycteris curasoae is, according to the IUCN, a vulnerable species; the population has experienced about a 30% or more decline over the last 20 years (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 2015). Leptonycteris curasoae is categorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as being endangered. Mexico has also recognized L. curasoae as being endangered (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum). There are not any current, effective conservation programs for the southern long-nosed bat (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). Leptonycteris curasoae has experienced population decline due to human expansion, agriculture, vandalism of roosting and maternity caves, and over-harvesting of agave for tequila production (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2018). Some people also kill the bats because they are mistaken for vampire bats (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2018). In order to experience regrowth and be protected properly, the habitats and food resources for southern long-nosed bats need to be preserved and promoted. ("Lesser Long-Nosed Bats", 2018; "Leptonycteris curasoae", 2015)


Genevieve Barnett (author), Colorado State University, Peter Leipzig (editor), Colorado State University, Tanya Dewey (editor), 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


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.

causes disease in humans

an animal which directly causes disease in humans. For example, diseases caused by infection of filarial nematodes (elephantiasis and river blindness).


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


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


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


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.


makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds


Having one mate at a time.


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.


an animal that mainly eats nectar from flowers


active during the night

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

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

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.


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 sight to communicate


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


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International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. 2015. "Leptonycteris curasoae" (On-line). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed February 21, 2018 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/summary/11699/0.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. 2018. "Lesser Long-Nosed Bats" (On-line). Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Accessed March 01, 2018 at https://www.desertmuseum.org/pollination/bats.php.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae)" (On-line). Environmental Conservation Online System.

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Molinari, J., E. Gutiérrez, A. De Ascencao, M. Sar. 2005. Predation by giant centipedes, Scolopendra gigantea, on three species of bats in a Venezuelan cave. Caribbean Journal of Science, 41: 340-346.

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Rojas-Martinez, A., A. Valiente-Banuet, M. del Coro Arizmendi, A. Alcántara-Eguren, H. Arita. 1999. Seasonal distribution of the long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae) in North America: does a generalized migration pattern really exist?. Journal of Biogeography, Vol 26, Issue 5: 1065-1077.

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