Canopy Family Panama

Common Tent-making Bat
Uroderma bilobatum

Common Tent-making Bat Uroderma bilobatum Panama
Photo by Jenn Sinasac

 

The Common Tent-making Bat is a common forest species of the lowlands of Central and South America. It is a member of the family Phyllostomidae, the New World leaf-nosed bats, a large family that includes vampire bats, fruit-eating bats, nectar bats and spear-nosed bats, although a majority of the species are insectivorous. They are medium-sized bats, 59-69 mm in length with a weight of 13-20 grams. They have a gray-brown coat with a pale white stripe down their back, and a U-shaped tail membrane. Their face has a fleshy noseleaf and 4 distinct white stripes. The noseleaf is believed to aid in echolocation, to help direct the sounds they emit.

Tent-making bats are mainly frugivorous, but will occasionally supplement their diet with insects, pollen and nectar. They are best known for their unique behavior of making “tents” out of large leaves. They bite through the midrib or vein of a large leaf so that it folds over into an inverted-V-shaped shelter. Banana and palm leaves are commonly used. The bats roost under the leaves, which provide protection from rain, sun and wind. A single leaf may house several bats, and they roost in groups of 2-59 individuals. A single “tent” may be used for up to 60 days. They are found from Mexico south to Peru, Bolivia and Brazil, in lowland forest and can be found roosting in palms near the Canopy Tower and Canopy Camp Darien. 

Did you know? Common Tent-making Bats emit calls at very low frequencies, often not detectable by standard bat detectors. For this reason, they are sometimes called “whispering bats.”

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