Tadarida teniotisEuropean free-tailed bat

Geographic Range

European free-tailed bats (Tadarida teniotis) are a palearctic species native to southern and Mediterranean Europe, northern Africa, and Myanmar.

In southeastern Europe, a colony of European free-tailed bats were found on Rila Mountain in the eastern Rhodopes Mountains. In India, several colonies have been found in Bihar, west Bengal, and Kerala. There are also colonies in the Dehradun and Tehri-Garwhal districts of Uttarakhand, India. Colonies of European free-tailed bats have been reported in three of the Dodecanese islands off of Greece. These islands include Rhodes, Karpathos, and Kos. There are currently seven reported colonies in Bulgaria. Colonies of European free-tailed bats have been reported in central Asia, Japan, and Taiwan. There have also been colonies reported in the Madeira and Canary islands. (Benda and Uhrin, 2017; Chakravarty, 2017; Nowak, 1999; Pandourski, 2014)


European free-tailed bats inhabit extremely tropical areas, as well as some temperate zones. They inhabit warmer regions of the Dodecanese islands off of Greece, as well as more temperate areas high in the Alps. European free-tailed bats inhabit areas with an elevation of 400 to 500 m. These bats avoid colder climates because they lack the physiology to survive seasonal food shortages. To obtain a minimal rate of metabolism in torpor, European free-tailed bats inhabit areas ranging from 7.5 to 10°C. In winter, European free-tailed bats select roosts that oscillate around 10°C.

Hintze et al. (2016) found that European free-tailed bats benefit from dam construction, unlike many other species. Dams act as drinking and foraging areas and increase overall activity of European free-tailed bats in the area. European free-tailed bats forage above lakes and in scrublands, woodlands, and urban areas. (Arlettaz, et al., 2000; Benda and Uhrin, 2017; Chakravarty, 2017; Dalhoumi, et al., 2016; Dalhoumi, et al., 2014; Hintze, et al., 2016; Mata, et al., 2016; Nowak, 1999; Pandourski, 2014; Tiago, et al., 2004)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds
  • Other Habitat Features
  • urban
  • Range elevation
    3100 to 0 m
    10170.60 to 0.00 ft

Physical Description

European free-tailed bats have long, broad ears that point towards their face. Their ears are rounded at the top and touch at the base in the front. European free-tailed bats have black and grey pelage, but some individuals have a brown tint to them. Their fur is short and silky and has been compared to mole pelage. At least one third of their tails extend beyond their uropatagium, the membrane between their legs. The ends of their tails have stiff hairs that are used as tactile organs. Their tails are between 40 to 52 mm in length. European free-tailed bats have a long muzzle and five creases in their upper lips. Their wings are long and narrow. On average, European free-tailed bats have a wingspan of 450 mm. They range from 122 to 139 mm in body length. Right forearm lengths (RFAs) for European free-tailed bats average 54 to 64 mm. They have a narrow uropatagium with short, velvety pelage. European free-tailed bats weigh, on average, 20 to 30 g. There are no obvious differences between males and females, but females do eat more and are more aggressive while hunting. This is attributed to females needing more energy during the maternity season. European free-tailed bats have a basal metabolic rate of 200.4 cm^3 oxygen/hour. (Dietz and Helversen, 2004; Dietz and Keifer, 2016; Firouz, 2005; Hoath, 2003; Marom, et al., 2006; Mata, et al., 2016; Verts and Carraway, 1998)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    20 to 30 g
    0.70 to 1.06 oz
  • Range length
    122 to 139 mm
    4.80 to 5.47 in
  • Average wingspan
    450 mm
    17.72 in
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    200.4 cm3.O2/g/hr


When European free-tailed bats mate, females will form groups of up to nine females. These harems are then actively protected by a single male, according to Ancillotto and Russo (2014). During the mating process, males are more aggressive than females. European free-tailed bats will bite, punch, chase, and call aggressively to entice mates. Other tactics used to entice mates include smelling one another, touching, and occasionally jumping on the legs of another bat briefly. Once a male has found a female, he will mount by pushing the female to the ground and holding her still while mating. While there are no records of promiscuity for European free-tailed bats, other members of the genus, such as Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis), are known to be promiscuous, mating multiple times with multiple bats. (Ancillotto and Russo, 2014; Keeley and Keeley, 2004)

The breeding season for European free-tailed bats lasts from May to October. Mating occurs in spring, and birth occurs in fall. They only give birth to one pup per pregnancy. There are no known records for the gestation period of European free-tailed bats, but another member of the family, Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis), have a gestation period of 77 to 100 days.

Newly-born brazilian free-tailed bats are about two-thirds the body length of adults and, on average, weigh about 12 g at birth. Young are weaned at 6 weeks. Females reach sexual maturity at a year old, and males reach sexual maturity at two years of age. In Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana), young are independent at around 7 weeks of age. They breed only once, due to fertilization happening immediately after insemination. Members of the genus Tadarida do not store sperm.

European free-tailed bats are iteroparous, meaning they breed multiple times in their lives. They are also viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young. (Amorim, et al., 2015; Armstrong, 2008; Barclay, 1994; Krutzsch, et al., 2002; Marom, et al., 2006; Papadimitiou, et al., 2009)

  • Breeding interval
    European free-tailed bats breed once a year
  • Breeding season
    May to October
  • Range number of offspring
    1 (high)

Female European free-tailed bats usually continue to care for their young after weaning, and juveniles stay in the same roost for some time before leaving on their own. There is little information on record for European free-tailed bats, but Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) are very similar. Female Brazilian free-tailed bats form nursery colonies in which to leave their pups while they forage. Females in the colonies are the primary caregivers, but males will take on a more active role such as creating roost spots and defending the roost, female, and young. Females and their pups will also communicate with each other acoustically, continuing from birth and following parturition. (Ancillotto and Russo, 2014; Kunz and Hood, 2000)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female


The longest known lifespan of European free-tailed bats in the wild is 13 years, based on a single male that was tracked while alive. He was at least 13 the last time he was captured. This is also the longest recorded lifespan for any species of the family Tadarida. European free-tailed bats are not kept in captivity. (Ibanez and Jorda-Perez, 2006)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    13 (high) years


European free-tailed bats live in colonies, but do not interact with other species very often. They communicate using echolocation calls. There use many unique frequencies that signal predators, detect vegetation when flying, or are used when near other European free-tailed bats. Around 47 unique calls have been recorded. They also use touch and sight to sense the world around them. They are non-migratory by nature, and are mostly sedentary. European free-tailed bats are nocturnal and can fly. They invest a great deal of energy in rearing young, and even continue to care for juveniles after they are ready to leave the roost. European free-tailed bats live in large colonies, and are insectivorous. (Ibanez and Jorda-Perez, 2006; Ancillotto and Russo, 2014; Bayefsky-Anand, et al., 2008; Ibanez and Jorda-Perez, 2006; Rydell and Arlettaz, 1994; Rydell, et al., 1995; Tiago, et al., 2004)

Home Range

A home range for European free-tailed bats has not been reported, but they are similar to Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) in many other ways. Brazilian free-tailed bats have an average home range of 0.75 km^2. They defend their roosting spots instead of trying to defend this very large home range. Exact territory sizes are unknown for both European free-tailed bats and Brazilian free-tailed bats. (Engesser, et al., 2017)

Communication and Perception

European free-tailed bats communicate using low frequency (11 to 12 kHz) echolocation calls. There have been 47 unique call frequencies recorded both in the wild and in enclosures. The echolocation calls of these bats change from region to region, as well as year to year. European free-tailed bat echolocation calls contained buzzes when they were around food sources, or other European free-tailed bats. This buzzing was not consistent enough to differentiate between social and food buzzes based on sound alone. By using longer echolocation calls, European free-tailed bats are able to detect and avoid vegetation while flying. Their advanced hearing also helps them locate and stay away from predators, or detect prey. European free-tailed bats also use sight to track food and find places to roost. They also use tactile senses in order to make sure they have enough headspace when roosting, as well as to sense the environment around them. (Bayefsky-Anand, et al., 2008; Rydell and Arlettaz, 1994; Rydell, et al., 1995)

Food Habits

Using low frequency echolocation, European free-tailed bats feed on large, tympanate insects. Two insect orders, Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) and Neuroptera (green lacewings and antlion), comprise 90% of the diets of European free-tailed bats in more temperate island climates.

European free-tailed bats show sex-related variation in eating habits. On average, female European free-tailed bats consumed larger moths than males. Rydell and Arlettaz (1994) attribute this to female European free-tailed bats needing more energy while they are pregnant or lactating. Whittaker et al. (1994) found different diet compositions in Israel. European free-tailed bat diets in these areas were dominated by beetles (Coleoptera) and moths. Although European free-tailed bats are considered an aerial-hawking bat, their echolocation sets them apart from most aerial-hawking bats; most other aerial-hawking bats do not eat tympanate insects. (Mata, et al., 2016; Mata, et al., 2018; Rydell and Arlettaz, 1994; Whittaker, et al., 1994)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects


Domestic cats (Felis catus) are a predator to many species of bats in peninsular Italy; this includes European free-tailed bats. Ancillotto et al. (2013) studied these bats in peninsular Italy between 2009 and 2011. They found that that 2 in every 14 adult European free-tailed bats are caught by cats. In Israel, European free-tailed bats are preyed upon by Lanner falcons (Falco biarmicus). Yosef (1991) found that Lanner falcons are successful in catching European free-tailed bats 29% of the time. (Ancillotto, et al., 2013; Yosef, 1991)

Ecosystem Roles

European free-tailed bats are known to be hosts to a rare species of flea known as Araeopsylla gestroi. This species of flea is almost exclusive to the Tadarida genus. These fleas feed on European free-tailed bats, and can cause skin irritation. (Lewis, 1976; Medvedev and Boris, 2013; Serra-Cobo, et al., 2002; Szentivanyi, et al., 2016)

Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Because European free-tailed bats eat many lepidopteran species, such as moths that feed on economically important crops, they have the potential to control pest species. However, no reports have shown direct evidence of pest control. (Riccucci and Lanza, 2014)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Schatz et al. (2013) report that antibodies for lyssaviruses have been found in European free-tailed bats in Spain; this is the genus of viruses that includes rabies. However, although these bats may carry rabies, there are no known reports in all of Europe of a rabid European free-tailed bat infecting a human. (Schatz, et al., 2013)

  • Negative Impacts
  • injures humans
    • carries human disease

Conservation Status

According to the IUCN Red List, European free-tailed bats are a species of "Least Concern." European free-tailed bats are not listed on the US Federal List, the CITES list, or the State of Michigan List.

European free-tailed bats are most threatened by deforestation, habitat loss caused by urbanization, and the use of pesticides. There is some evidence to support them being negatively affected by deforestation. European free-tailed bats are also, potentially, affected by wind farms. These are not considered major threats to the species at this time.

European free-tailed bats are protected by national legislation in many individual places, such as the states of India, and they are internationally protected through the Bonn Convention and the Bern Convention. The Bonn Convention, in Appendix II, states that any state in the range of a migratory species has to take action to conserve roosting areas. The Bern Convention states the intent to conserve plant life and the natural habitats of wildlife. (Benda and Piraccini, 2016)


Stephanie Crouch (author), Radford University, Lauren Burroughs (editor), Radford University, Layne DiBuono (editor), Radford University, Lindsey Lee (editor), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University.



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

World Map


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.


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.


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.


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


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


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.


living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.


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.


Alfonso, B. 2018. Advances on the group composition, mating system, roosting and flight behaviour of the European free-tailed bat (Tadarida teniotis). Mammalia, 82/5: 460-468.

Amorim, F., V. Mata, P. Beja, H. Rebelo. 2015. Effects of a drought episode on the reproductive success of European free-tailed bat (Tadarida teniotis). Mammalian Biology, 80/3: 228-236.

Ancillotto, L., D. Russo. 2014. Selective aggressiveness in European free-tailed bats (Tadarida teniotis): Influence of familiarity, age and sex. Die Naturwissenschaften, 101/3: 221-228.

Ancillotto, L., M. Serangeli, D. Russo. 2013. Curiosty killed the bat: Domestic cats as bat predators. Mammalian Biology, 78/5: 369-372.

Arlettaz, R., C. Ruchet, J. Aeschimann, E. Brun, M. Genoud, P. Vogel. 2000. Physiological traits affecting the distribution and wintering strategy of the bat Tadarida teniotis. Ecology, 81/4: 1004-1014.

Armstrong, K. 2008. Brazilian free-tailed bat. Mammalian Species, 4: 1-6.

Barclay, R. 1994. Constraints on reproduction by flying vertebrates: Energy and calcium. American Naturalist, 144/6: 1021-1031.

Bayefsky-Anand, S., M. Skowronski, M. Fenton, C. Korine, M. Holderied. 2008. Variations in the echolocation calls of the European free-tailed bat. Journal of Zoology, 275/2: 115-123.

Benda, P., R. Piraccini. 2016. "Tadarida teniotis" (On-line). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species e.T21311A2211499. Accessed March 03, 2019 at http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T21311A22114995.en..

Benda, P., M. Uhrin. 2017. First records of bats from four Dodecanese islands, Greece (Chiroptera). Lynx, Series Nova, 48: 15-38.

Chakravarty, R. 2017. A new distribution record of the European free-tailed bat Tadarida teniotis (Chiroptera:Molossidae) from the western Himalaya, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 9/7: 10463-10467.

Corsetti, L. 1990. The European free-tailed bat, Tadarida teniotis, in a suburban area of Latina, Latium (Central Italy). Associazione Teriologica Italiana, 2/1: 1825-5272.

Dalhoumi, R., P. Aissa, S. Aulagnier. 2016. Bat species richness and activity in Bou Hedma National Park (central Tunisia). Turkish Journal of Zoology, 4/6: 864-875.

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.

Dietz, C., O. Helversen. 2004. Illustrated Identification Key to the Bats of Europe. Tuebingen & Erlangen, Germany: Diez & von Helversen.

Dietz, C., A. Keifer. 2016. Bats of Britain and Europe. London, United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Engesser, S., A. Ridley, S. Townsend. 2017. Element repetition rates encode functionally distinct information in pied babbler clucks and purrs. Animal Cognition, 20/5: 953-960.

Firouz, E. 2005. The Complete Fauna of Iran. London, United Kingdom: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd..

Hintze, F., V. Duro, J. Carvalho, C. Eira, P. Rodrigues, J. Vingada. 2016. Influence of reservoirs created by small dams on the activity of bats. Acta Chiropterologica, 18/2: 395-408.

Hoath, R. 2003. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. Cairo, Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press.

Ibanez, C., J. Jorda-Perez. 2006. Longevity in the European free-tailed bat (Tadarida teniotis). Journal of Zoology, 245/2: 213-214.

Keeley, A., B. Keeley. 2004. The mating system of Tadarida brasiliensis (Chiroptera:Molossidae) in large highway bridge colony. Journal of Mammalogy, 85/1: 113-119.

Krutzsch, P., T. Fleming, E. Crichton. 2002. Reproductive biology of male Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasilinsis mexicana). Journal of Mammalogy, 83/2: 489-500.

Kunz, T., W. Hood. 2000. Reproductive Biology of Bats. San Diego, California: Academic Press.

Lewis, R. 1976. The fleas (Siphonaptera) of Egypt: An illustrated and annotated key. The Journal of Parasitology, 53/4: 863-885.

Marcel, U., G. Suren, B. Petr. 2009. Does Tadarida teniotis really occur in Crimea? (Chiroptera: Molossidae). Lynx, Series Nova, 40/1: 115-126.

Marom, S., C. Korine, M. Wojciechowski, C. Tracy, B. Pinshow. 2006. Energy metabolism and evaporative water loss in the European free-tailed bat and Hemprich's long-eared bat (Michroptera): Species sympatric in the Negev Desert. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology: Ecological and Evolutionary Approaches, 79/5: 944-956.

Mata, V., H. Rebelo, F. Amorim, G. McCracken, S. Jarman, P. Beja. 2018. How much is enough? Effects of technical and biological replication on metabarcoding dietary analysis. Molecular Ecology, 28/2: 165-175.

Mata, V., F. Amorim, M. Corley, G. McCracken, H. Rebelo, P. Beja. 2016. Female dietary bias towards large migratory moths in the European free-tailed bat (Tadarida teniotis). Biology Letters, 12/3: 1-5.

Medvedev, S., K. Boris. 2013. Host associations and origin in the formation of the Caucasian fauna of fleas (Siphonaptera). Entomological Review, 91/4: 716-713.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th Edition: Volume 1. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Pandourski, I. 2014. Records of European free-tailed bat Tadarida teniotis (Rafinesque, 1814) (Mammalia: Chiroptera) in Bulgaria. ZooNotes, 52: 1-3.

Papadimitiou, H., S. Swartz, T. Kunz. 2009. Ontogenetic and anatomic variation in mineralization of the wing skeleton of the Mexican free-tailed bat, Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana. Journal of Zoology, 240/3: 411-426.

Riccucci, M., B. Lanza. 2014. Bats and insect pest control: A review. Vespertilio, 17: 161-169.

Rydell, J., R. Arlettaz. 1994. Low-frequency echolocation enables the bat Tadarida teniotis to feed on tympanate insects. Proceedings: Biological Sciences, 257/1349: 175-178.

Rydell, J., G. Jones, D. Waters. 1995. Echolocating bats and hearing moths: Who are the winners. Oikos, 73/3: 419-424.

Schatz, J., A. Fooks, L. McElhinney, D. Horton, J. Echevarria, S. Vázquez‐Moron, E. Kooi, T. Rasmussen, T. Müller, C. Freuling. 2013. Bat rabies surveillance in Europe. Zoonoses and Public Health, 60/1: 22-34.

Serra-Cobo, J., B. Amengual, C. Abellan, H. Bourhy. 2002. European bat Lyssavirus infection in Spanish bat populations. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 8/4: 413-420.

Szentivanyi, T., P. Estok, M. Foldvari. 2016. Checklist of host associations of European bat flies (Diptera: Nycteibiidae, Streblidae). Zootaxa, 4205/2: 101-126.

Tiago, M., A. Rainho, M. Carapuco, P. Oliveira, J. Palmeirim. 2004. Foraging behaviour and habitat use by the European free-tailed bat Tadarida teniotis. Acta Chiropterologica, 6/1: 99-110.

Verts, B., L. Carraway. 1998. Land Mammals of Oregon. Berkley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, Ltd.

Whittaker, J., B. Shalmon, T. Kunz. 1994. Food and Feeding Habits of Insectivorous Bats from Israel. Hamburg and Berlin, Germany: Verlag Paul Parey.

Yosef, R. 1991. Foraging habits, hunting and breeding success of Lanner falcons in Israel. Journal of Raptor Research, 25/3: 77-81.