Greater Mouse-tailed Bat (Rhinopoma microphyllum)



One of the few bats in the world to have a tail as long as the head and body combined, the greater mouse-tailed bat has soft, greyish-brown or dark brown fur on the body, with a paler abdomen. The face, the rump and the rear part of the abdomen are bare . It has large ears, which are connected across the forehead by a flap of skin, and slit-like nostrils. This species also has the ability to hang by its thumbs as well as its feet


The greater mouse-tailed bat is a desert species, occupying areas of little vegetation with an annual rainfall of less than 300 millimetres. It roosts in caves, mines, tunnels, old monuments and buildings, and is even known to have lived in the ancient pyramids of Egypt for over 3,000 years .The greater mouse-tailed bat lives in large colonies, sometimes containing over a thousand individuals. Its diet varies depending on the time of year and the location; for example, a population of bats in Iran was found to feed almost exclusively on beetles, while in Israel, during the summer months, the greater mouse-tailed bat is known to feast on carpenter ants during their massive nuptial flights, in which male and female ants emerge from nests to mate . Over autumn, the greater mouse-tailed bat accumulates fat and almost doubles in weight, allowing it to survive for several weeks without any food or water during the harsh winter months when insect prey is scarce. As a result, the greater mouse-tailed bat does not need to hibernate and instead remains active throughout the year. Female greater mouse-tailed bats mate in spring, around March, giving birth to a single young in June or July after a gestation period of around 18 weeks. The young are weaned after six to eight weeks and become sexually mature in their second year of life. Inhabits arid and semi-desert vegetation zones where suitable roosts and food are available. Recorded in semi-desert grassland with areas of Acacia scrub in oases with gardens and orchards surrounded by sandy desert and hamada, in gorges of wadis with some Tamarix and Oleanders (Nerium oleander). Roosts in dry caves, ruins, underground tunnels (including catacombs), mosques and old buildings. In summer sometimes roosts in fissures, small crevices and among boulders. The species is sendentary and it stores fat in autumn for the winter months.
Systems: Terrestrial

Range Description:

Occurs across central and Northern Africa through Arabia and southern Asia; from Morocco to India north to Israel, Palestine, Jordan Iraq and Afghanistan and south to Kenya. Presence in Myanmar and Thailand based on a very old reference with no detail of location; there is doubt about its current presence. Occurs up 1,100 m asl in Morocco and Algeria.
Countries: Native:
Afghanistan; Algeria; Bangladesh; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Chad; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Ethiopia; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Kenya; Kuwait; Libya; Mali; Mauritania; Morocco; Nepal; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; Sudan; Syrian Arab Republic; Thailand; Tunisia; Western Sahara; Yemen (Socotra)


 Appears to be particularly abundant near oases. However, both distribution and abundance are undoubtedly insufficiently investigated because the roosts and suitable habitats are often unreachable. Colonies range in size from a few individuals up to several hundred. Up to 500 individuals have been reported in colonies in Jordan (Amr 2000). Occurs with other species in the genus, in Iran it is normally found in low numbers and low densities and it feeds on coleoptera (M. Sharifi pers. comm. 2005). Assumed stable throughout the southwest Asia region (D. Kock pers. comm. 2005). Population information remains unknown for its African distribution.
Population Trend: Stable

Major Threat(s):

 Human disturbance in roost sites and pesticide use against locusts are the main threats. In arid areas of Iran which can not support high numbers of colonies, they aggregate in a few large groups which increases their vulnerability (M. Sharifi pers. comm. 2005). These are not thought to be major threats to the species as a whole at present.

 Conservation Actions:

No specific measures are known or are in place, but presumably occurs in protected areas across the range. A study on the impacts of pesticides is required, especially ways in which the impact might be minimised.