Bulldog Bat (Noctilio leporinus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Chiroptera
Family:    Noctilionidae
Size:    Length: 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm)  Wingspan: 11 to 12 inches (28 to 30 cm) 
Weight: 2.5 ounces (71 grams)
Diet: Mostly small fish, sometimes frogs or aquatic insects
Distribution: Mexico and Bahamas, Central and South America to Argentina
Young:  1
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Pup  Group: Colony
Lifespan: Usually up to 20 years



·       Bats belong to the order Chiroptera, which means “hand wing” in Greek.

·       Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight.

·       Chinese people believe bats bring good luck.

·       Although “blind as a bat” is a common saying, it is inaccurate, because all bats have vision.



Male bulldog bats are larger than females and are reddish-orange on their back, while females are grey or dull brown. They have pointed muzzles and smooth, large upper lips that are divided by a hare lip (a vertical fold of skin under the nostrils). Like all fishing bats, they have hind feet that are larger than those of non-fishing bats.



Bulldog bats roost in caves, abandoned buildings or hollow trees, in tropical and subtropical areas of the Americas, from Mexico through Central America to parts of South America, as well as several tropical islands. They live both inland and on the coastal regions, always near water where they can catch both saltwater and freshwater fish. 


Feeding Habits

Bulldog bats are one of six species of bats whose diets consist mostly of fish. They fly low above the water and when they become aware of a fish just below the water’s surface, they swoop on it, catching it with their long, sharp claws. When they are unable to catch fish, they turn to frogs and insects as a food source. When these bats catch a fish, they often begin eating it immediately, even while flying. They have cheek pouches where they can store uneaten food to take back to their roosting area. 



Male and female bulldog bats do not form lifelong relationships. After mating, the male does not remain for the birth, which takes place approximately four months later. The female raises her baby within a group of mothers and their young. Young bats are carried on their mothers’ backs until they begin to fly at approximately three weeks of age. By this time, they are nearly the same size as their mothers, but will gain more weight. Young bulldog bats do not mate until they are at least one year old. 



Bulldog bats often live in big roosts that may be made up of 30 to hundreds of individuals. They sleep during the day, and at night, go out in groups of five to 15 to hunt. When bulldog bats fall into the water, they can swim using their wings for paddles, and can also resume flying straight out of the water. All bats are able to send out and hear high-pitched sounds that are inaudible to human ears, and this is how they communicate with each other.



The bulldog bat is not considered at risk at this time. However, there are over 400 bat species that are considered at risk by the IUCN, and in Europe, all bats are protected under the Wildlife Order of 1985. This order is very strict—it is not only illegal to kill or injure a bat, but disturbing a roosting bat, handling a bat, or possessing a bat (alive or dead) are also against the law. Even photographing a bat is forbidden without a license. The public however, is allowed to care for an injured bat as long as the bat is set free once recuperated.









Bulldog Bat Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

Bats, M. Brock Fenton, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1992