Antillean Ghost-Faced Bat

Photo of the Antillean Ghost-faced Bat/Murciélago

Antillean Ghost-faced Bat, Blainville’s Leaf-chinned Bat (Eng.), Murciélago (Sp.), Mormoops blainvillei (Sci), native – Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti-Dominican Republic), Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

Photo ©S.J. Presley, University of Connecticut. Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF

General Information

Taxonomy: Class – Mammalia, Order – Chiroptera, Family – Mormoopidae, Genus – Mormoops, Species – M. blainvillei. This species occurs in the Greater Antilles, and adjacent small islands. The generic epithet Mormoops is derived from a combination of the Greek words “mormo” a hideous monster, and “opsis” appearance or aspect – a fitting species type to feature in the Halloween month of October!

Description

The Antillean Ghost-faced Bat is a small animal, characteristically weighing no more than 0.3 ounces (9 grams). Its forearm length varies from 1.7 to 1.9 inches (43 to 50 millimeters) while its body length typically ranges from 3.1 to 3.3 inches for females, with males being slightly longer. They have short, rounded, wide-open ears, resembling a funnel surrounding the head.  Their tiny eyes give the appearance of being within the ears. Individuals range in color from pale to reddish cinnamon and are usually slightly darker above than below. Most individuals maintain body temperatures between 87° and 93° Fahrenheit (31° and 34° Celsius).

Habits

M. blainvillei is an insectivore preying primarily on Lepidoptera (moths), by using bi-sonar echo-location vocalizations to access targets, while swooping to within 3 feet (9 centimeters) of the forest floor in vegetation near trails and roads at the forest edge. Insects are frequently caught in the air with a large pouch formed by its large tail membrane, often using a wing to funnel an insect into the pouch.

The Antillean Ghost-faced Bat roosts mostly in warm caves in large colonies. Small groups and individuals are occasionally found roosting at the entrance to less sheltered, windy caves and shafts within the forest.  A strictly nocturnal animal, M. blainvillei remains in the day roost until after sunset. They enter and leave the roost throughout the night on multiple feeding expeditions, returning to the roost shortly before sunrise. M. blainvillei females are monestrous (having one mating cycle annually) typically bearing a single pup each year at the beginning of the rainy season. Mating occurs in January and February and gestation appears to last for 60 days. Like other forest bats, Antillean Ghost-faced Bats pollinate numerous plants, and are responsible for 70–95% of all seeds dispersed, playing a vital role in forest regeneration.

Habitat

M. blainvillei is found in the forests of the Greater Antilles islands (Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico) usually below 1,300 feet (400 meters) in elevation.

Conservation

The IUCN considers the Antillean Ghost-faced Bat as a “Lower Risk/Near Threatened" species.

Where to look for this animal in the EYNF

M. blainvillei is an uncommonly observed species in the El Yunque National Forest due in part to its nocturnal habits – it may occasionally be observed searching for prey along the edges of roads and nature trails in the Tabonuco vegetation area of the forest shortly after sunset.





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/elyunque/learning/nature-science/?cid=fsbdev3_043049