Sooty Mustached Bat

Illustration of the Suoty Mustached bat/Murcimlago Bigotudo menor

Sooty Mustached Bat (Eng.), Murciélago Bigotudo Menor (Sp.), Pteronotus quadridens fuliginosus (Sci.). Native bat species occurring in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and the Puerto Rican archipelago.

Photo: © Fr. Alejandro Sánchez, Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF

General Information

Taxonomy: Class – Mammalia; Order – Chiroptera; Family – Mormoopidae; Genus – Pteronotus; Species – P. quadridens. The species’ scientific name is derived from the Greek word pteron meaning “wing” and the Latin otus meaning “pertaining to”.


The Sooty Mustache Bat is the smallest species of the genus Pteronotus. It can be easily distinguished from the other bats in this genus by its smaller forearm length of 1.6 inches (40 millimeters). It typically weighs approximately 0.18 ounces (5 grams) and has a short, narrow snout. Its body is completely covered in fur while its wings and tail membranes are naked. The last 25% of the tail extends freely from the wing membrane. Body color ranges from grayish-brown to yellowish-brown with an occasional orange-brown color seen in older animals. Dorsal (upper surface) hair is tri-colored – a gray-white central band surrounded by darker bands. Ventral (lower body) hairs are dark-brown and grayish-white. Skin flaps resembling a moustache cover its nostrils giving rise to its “sooty mustache” common name. Ears are long, narrow and pointed, connected by two low ridges that fuse at the top of the nose.


P. quadridens roosts exclusively in caves and is one of the most abundant bats in Puerto Rico. It is a crepuscular species, leaving the cave as a part of a large formation of bats to begin foraging just before sunset. It may use separate night roosts located outside the cave if a second feeding period is required. Because of its habit of early departure from its cave roost, it is subject to predation from diurnal (daytime) predators such as the Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) and wintering Merlin (Falco columbarius). An insectivore, it feeds on flying insects (moths, flies, etc.) captured in the forest understory via echo-location (identifying prey position at night by hearing rather than by seeing). P. quadridens begins mating in January, with most females pregnant in May. Newborn young form dense clusters of 50 to 200 individuals in shallow depressions of cave walls.


The Sooty Mustached Bat occurs in Tropical and dry Forests throughout the Puerto Rican archipelago, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.


P. quadridens is listed as near-threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but the species may be in decline due to the potential negative effects of parasites infestation, rabies infection and the recently encountered bat disease Mycoses, the so-called “white-nose syndrome”.